Almost three years after a devastating flood forced Holmestead Saddlery to close it doors, the business is set to reopen.
Staff arrived at the Kill store and warehouse - which sells country clothing and equestrian goods - in late October 2011 to discover a devastating flood in the premises.
It had been caused by torrential rainfall which flooded the local river and water cascaded into the shop and warehouse.
“It was a very difficult time; everything was flooded including 27 containers and it has taken a long time to get back into business,” proprietor Bill Holmes told the Leader.
He reflected: “The warehouse is 180 feet long and the store occupies 6,000 square feet and everything we had in terms of stock was destroyed or damaged. In fact all of our stock had to be disposed of in a flood sale some six months later.”
Holmestead was selling some €3.5m. worth of goods annually at the time.
To make matters worse it happened as the business was gearing up for the Christmas trade and “the buildings took forever to dry out.”
Now the enterprise is set to re-open on September 19 with the hope that within two years there will be 30 full and part time employees.
“It is a long established business and we’ve worked hard at establishing the brand both here and internationally, including at major horse trials events such as Badminton in the UK. In a sense we’re a tourist attraction and we’ve supplied anybody who is anybody in the showjumping and horseracing industry,” he added
Initially, some 20 people will be working at the enterprise, based at Farmervale, near Kill, and some of those to be taken on will be IT specialists as plans for a internet based sales operation - aimed at the export market - come to fruition.
A native of Tyrella, Downpatrick, Co. Down, Mr. Holmes established the business in 1976. “I started giving pony rides when I was 11 years old and then I bought and sold by first Martingale (horse tack) with that money. The flood was a hard blow but I’m not one to give up and I’m delighted to reopen with the help of my brand manager and stalwart Margaret Heffernan and the fabulous staff.”