Warning from trader as ‘killer’ rates force his flagship store off the Lisburn Road

‘Ghost Town’ road killed off by rates

By Scott Jamison

South Belfast’s premier shopping district is rapidly becoming a ghost town due to exorbitant rates charges, according to the latest trader to shut up shop there.

Trevor Wilson of Beaufort Exclusive Interiors was speaking after taking the decision this week to close his flagship Lisburn Road shop at the end of the month. The interior design firm, which also has locations in Moira and Lisburn, will shut after 10 years on the road.

A disappointed Trevor said he had not taken the decision lightly but had had his hand forced by increased rates for retailers on the Lisburn Road.

“We have three outlets and the Lisburn Road was the one with the highest rates so it stopped being viable for us. Our headquarters are in Moira and we have our factory outlet in Lisburn, so we didn’t really have a choice but to shut the Lisburn Road.

“I’m very sad because we’ve been here a fair amount of time and this is my place of work so I don’t like that it’s come to this. The Lisburn Road location has been the company’s canvas for the past 10 years, where we show off what we can do and it is incredibly important. We have a regular clientele who come in every few months to see our work and we have built a good rapport with them on the Lisburn Road but now we’re in a position where I hope we can convince them to come to Moira instead.”

Trevor warned the situation on the road for traders was now “dire”.

“A couple of places close to Beaufort have closed recently and others that tried to start up didn’t last very long. Things are pretty bad and it is becoming a ghost town.

“It’s a shame because it’s a lovely part of town that was once the jewel in Belfast’s crown. It still has a number of nice boutiques and high-end outlets but the way things are going I don’t know how much longer they will last.”

Trevor said he wasn’t sure if anything could be done to help promote trade on the road.

“The rates are a complete killer, they are horrendous on the Lisburn Road. That has put a lot of people off completely.

“It has certainly been a big factor for us and nothing can be done until the rates get changed. I’m very disappointed because our top floor overlooked Drumglass Park and it’s probably the best view from an office in Belfast. So it’s a pity things have not worked out for us there.”

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said the regional rate had not yet been set by the Assembly but the district rate, set by the council, was set to rise by 2.6 per cent.

“This is significantly lower than the five per cent rate of inflation and is the lowest rates rise in over 10 years.

“We support and help local businesses and independent retailers across the city with a number of business development programmes and events throughout the year, targeting the Lisburn Road and South Belfast area as well as the rest of the city.

“The council is also holding its first-ever Belfast Independent Retail Week in March which will celebrate the range and quality of local retailers in the city through a week-long series of workshops, events and promotions. This initiative will also highlight quality neighbourhood shopping across the city, which will include the Lisburn Road area.”

 

 

 

 

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