RETAILERS along the Main Street in Naas are being asked to support an initiative to promote shopping in the town centre.
The development comes amid reports that the loss of business to the town since the opening of the Tesco shopping centre in Monread has been estimated at €80m.
Coincidentally some observers estimate that the turnover at the Tesco centre is now also in the region of €80m.
The initiative has been researched by Retail Excellence Ireland, a not-for-profit organisation, which is also the largest retail industry trader body in Ireland. REI chairman Keith Rogers told the Leader that competition between the town centre and Tesco is made more difficult because the percentage of turnover spent on wages (6%) is significantly less than at the average in the town centre (12%-14%).
“This is because of efficiencies that can be achieved at Monread. It is a giant efficiency and it means that you need a minimum staff and it applies to all the operators in the Monread centre, not just Tesco,” Mr. Rogers said.
He stressed that REI is not “anti-Tesco” adding “we would like to see Kildare County Council and Naas Town Council to see the high street in Naas as competition with Tesco. For example customers can park for free in Tesco and customers should be incentivised to park in Naas town centre. Also an empty unit down town looks tacky but in the centre Tesco have somebody there who will make an empty unit look a little more attractive.”
He said somebody should be given responsibility for managing the development and promoting business along the main street.
“This should be done by the retailers with the support of the local authority.
“We are not looking for handouts and we are not against out of town centres but there should be balance and even when it comes to giving planning permission. The Taoiseach himself said that any County Manager who does not support this is a fool.”
Naas businesswoman Antoinette Buckley (Mexx) welcomed the plan.