Carrick’s Age NI shop is to shut later this month with the loss of two jobs.
The charity has pointed to tough trading conditions and the outlet’s location as reasons for the closure.
In a statement, it said: “The manager, staff and volunteers of Age NI Carrickfergus are long term supporters and have worked very hard to maintain a presence in the town over the past 20 years.
“Located in West Street, the shop has seen a continued deterioration in terms of footfall and sales, predominantly down to its location and the current economic climate in the area. This resulted in the shop not being profitable which is an untenable situation for a charity.
“Following a meeting with the Age NI Enterprises Ltd board on the closure of the Age NI Carrickfergus shop, the senior management team at Age NI entered into a period of consultation with all staff affected.
“Subsequently staff and volunteers were regrettably advised that the shop is to close with effect from Saturday 19 May 2018. This will lead to two staff redundancies within the charity as redeployment opportunities were not suitable.”
Noel Williams, chair of Carrickfergus Town Centre Partnership, has expressed regret at the decision.
Pointing out originally the store was Age Concern before the 2009 merger with Help the Aged to become Age NI, Mr Williams said: “The store was believed to be profitable until the town’s public realm work on the roads and footpaths in the town centre impacted on the use of cars in the town centre, particularly West Street. This work has created a pedestrianised town centre and this has reduced the number of clients who would drive to the shop to off load material to be resold.
“Other businesses in West Street have felt a similar pinch and the CTCP has a priority to resolve the ‘on street’ parking issues with the council.
“It is very disappointing for the 24 volunteers who have committed so much to the charity, the shop and their customers and donors.”
Responding to the comments, the charity said: “Age NI values the contribution of the staff, volunteers and people of Carrickfergus for their support over the past 20 years. We are extremely grateful for their much needed efforts to raise funds to ensure the delivery of Age NI services and will liaise directly with the volunteers to identify other suitable opportunities.”
Meanwhile, Age NI has reassured the public it is still available to assist anyone in need of advice, information or practical support.
“For more information contact Age NI on 028 9024 5729 or by visiting www.ageni.org. Alternatively, please contact the Age NI Advice Service on Freephone 0808 808 7575 to speak to a specialist advisor in confidence.”