Austins enters liquidation after 186 year in business

Thu, 10 Mar 2016 | BUSINESS SALE

One of the oldest independent department stores in the world has gone into liquidation after trading for 186 years.

It survived the great Irish famine, two world wars and the Ulster Troubles, but Austins has gone into liquidation with the loss of 53 jobs.

The retail company, which is based in Derry city centre, Northern Ireland, was opened by Thomas Austin in 1830. Its iconic building was thought to house one of the oldest independent department stores in the world, opening before both Harrods and Macy’s.

The store became well known throughout the country in 2009 when it was the subject of a television documentary called Keep It In the Family. Furthermore, in 2013, the landmark city centre building again came to prominence when it formed a backdrop for the City of Culture Lumiere festival.

The building was sold to City Hotel Group in November 2014, with the trading side of the business sold to Hassonzender Ltd.

A City Hotel Group statement said: “We would point out that the City Hotel Group have no involvement in the trading business conducted by Hassonzender Ltd.

“We were not consulted about, nor did we have any notice of this closure.”

Sarah McLaughlin, the chief executive of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, said: “At one stage it was the city centre and very much the heart of people’s purchasing, and that has changed.

“It has had a number of tough trading years. The city centre has rejigged itself but it has had challenging times with competition from the multinationals.”

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) said news of Austins’ liquidation was not just a loss for Derry, but for the wider Northern Ireland retail sector.

For more information about profiting from companies in liquidation, see How struggling retailers are being bought and turned around and How to find distressed business opportunities at the right time.


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