WORKERS at the Marks & Spencer store in Naas had no idea the store was about to close in the run up to last week’s announcement.
Staff were informed on Tuesday last (August 3) that a meeting had been arranged for the following day and they were then told of the closure decision.
The Naas store employed some 37 people, mainly women, including part time employees and the closure represents another blow to the commercial viability of Naas town centre.
The Mandate trade union, which represents thousands of workers at the 21 M & S stores across Ireland, described the closure of the store as a devastating shock for the workers and their families.
Mandate also said that senior management have signalled their intention to reduce a number of middle management roles effective in the majority of stores.
Management is also apparently seeking a reduction in “certain terms and conditions enjoyed by all staff, such as Christmas bonuses and certain premiums,” said Mandate’s general secretary Gerry Light.
He also said that some 55,000 retail jobs have been lost since the economic crisis started - proof that austerity is causing huge damage to the Irish economy.
Local politicians have expressed disappointment and Cllr. Willie Callaghan said many people in Naas felt that the store appeared to be busy. Mayor Emer McDaid said: It will damage efforts to return Naas to being the vibrant town it once was.”
“I want to see a redoubling of efforts to improve the business outlook.”
Naas Fianna Fail representative James Lawless said fresh thinking is needed to promote Naas.
“We’ve seen new supermarkets develop and do good business outside the town. There are plenty of people here to support local business but they need to be brought back into the town centre.”
Mr. Lawless said rates competition between in-town and out-of-town developments needs to be stopped and he wants “plentiful and clamp free” parking within the town.