Closure of two more shops is ‘worrying’

Dowlers in Enniskillen which is closing in September

Dowlers in Enniskillen which is closing in September

ENNISKILLEN TOWN CENTRE has suffered yet another blow to its retail landscape with the announcement that two more stores are closing their doors.

Flagship store ‘Dowlers’, of East Bridge Street is to cease their operations in Enniskillen, while clothing shop ‘Too’ is another to fall victim to the economic downturn. The losses to the High Street follow hot on the heels of Wesley Elliott, which will cease it’s clothing retail business and specialise now solely in curtains and soft furnishings.


Drew Wigham, Manager of Dowlers explained that the Enniskillen business had become financially unviable and unfortunately the store had to close.

“It was just becoming more and more difficult to keep the business alive and we eventually reached the point when we had to close. The rates and everything else just became a phenomenal burden in the present economic climate.”

Drew explained that while the Enniskillen business will close in September, the Lisnaskea store will remain open as normal.

“Every other business is slimming their staff and we had to take the unfortunate decision to go forward with this closure. If you’re losing money in one place, it’s going to eventually have an impact.”

When asked about the future of the high street and the role of independent retailers Drew admitted the difficulty retailers are now faced with, especially in the regards to the multi-national corporations.

“When you have got the Asdas and Tescos starting to sell non food items it does impact on everyone else,” he added.
Local UUP MLA Tom Elliott admits the current trend of the high street is ‘worrying’ and highlighted the recurring issue of rates. He also spoke of a concern among local traders about a rates hike ,  the result of the proposed merger with Omagh in 2015.

Tom has called for a review of business rates and for the major powers to do more.


“Enniskillen isn’t alone, but I’m very, very worried. I believe DETI and the council just aren’t doing enough and indeed the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP).

“The banks too offer no help to struggling businesses, when things get tough they wash their hands of people. They need a better relationship with customers, as that certainly is not there at the minute. People are not getting the support to reinvest, the banks are not allowing it and that simply has to change.”

Glyn Roberts, CEO of the Northern Ireland Retail Traders Association insisted that while the loss of businesses in the town centre is a blow, there is still hope for Enniskillen.

“I think Enniskillen will enjoy some bounce after the G8, but there are still pressures around that are making things difficult for retailers such as rates and out of town retailers.

“This is not just Enniskillen, we have the highest shop vacancy rate in the UK twice the UK average.”

While some may be writing the eulogy of the high street, Glyn is more optimistic.

“I would be very encouraged, there are good strong businesses and great tourism opportunities still to come. It is a way away yet, but I would be confident Enniskillen will bounce back and become a brand leader in terms of town centres in Northern Ireland.”

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