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Garden centre pledges to reopen in April

A STRABANE garden centre that stands to lose around £30,000 in revenue due to remaining closed this month will reopen in April “regardless of the decisions that come from Stormont”.

Management at The Garden Depot in Strabane have made the decision to open again on April 4, despite no confirmed reopening date having been announced yet by Stormont ministers.

Owner John McGuinness said the business simply could not afford to stay closed during the coming months. He claimed the garden centre stood to lose between £30,000 and £40,000 in revenue this month alone.

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Mr McGuinness said, “Our issue is that customers can go to Asda or Lidl and buy similar products that we sell, and customers are ringing asking why we aren’t allowed to open. We cannot afford to stay closed.

We are sick of having no answers, no help and I won’t let my business go under.

“Our prime months are coming up and we have already lost March.

“We stand to lose between £30,000 and £40,000 in revenue just by being closed during March and we cannot afford to start the new year losing so much money after being closed for a good part of last year,” said Mr McGuinness.

As part of the latest lockdown, which came into effect on Boxing Day, garden centres and homeware stores must remain closed. Businesses found flouting the rules can be fined. Breaches can incur a fixed penalty notice of £1,000 or up to £10,000 on conviction.

Mr McGuinness said he has not received any financial help from the government and he believes their actions have been “unacceptable”.

He said, “We have been contacting MLAs in the town and, only for them giving us guidance, we wouldn’t know what is going on.

“We were all promised financial help from the government but since November we haven’t seen anything.

Promises
“There have been unacceptable actions from our government, all their promises about looking after local businesses and keeping traders open.

“Our town is a ghost town. I feel for any business owner that may not see the light, but I won’t let that happen. Even click and collect is frowned upon.

“We need time to order stock so if we wait on an official date from Stormont, we would have no idea when we would be allowed to open.

“Other shops and building merchants can sell compost and flowers, but we are deemed as non-essential,” said Mr McGuinness.

The businessman said it would be expensive to restock the garden centre ahead of reopening but he is determined to save his business.

He continued, “For us to restock, it is going to take a hell of a lot of money.

“From being closed since Christmas, we have no revenue to do so.

“It is hard finding funds to try and restock and get opened again but we will do it.”

Mr McGuinness added that The Garden Depot will open in a safe and responsible manner following all of the Covid-19 guidelines in April.

He said, “Every business has adapted their working environment.

“We ran events over Christmas and Halloween in a safe manner.

“Most of our store is outdoor and we have a one-way system in place, and all the safety measures will be in place.

“Everyone has to adapt to the new normal,” Mr McGuinness added.

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 4 Castle Street, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, BT82 8AB