RISING personal injury claims and a downturn in business caused the closure of Eurospar, the only convenience store in Moyross in Limerick.
A huge part of the northside of the city has now been left without a post office service as the facility - which moved to the Watch House Cross complex from Ballynanty - has also closed as a result.
While An Post stated the search was “under way” for a new location in the area, residents now face a journey to the Caherdavin office to claim social welfare and use other services.
There was “devastation” across the community yesterday as the anchor tenant in the Watch House Cross centre closed without warning, causing 40 jobs to be lost in the process. Residents will hold a meeting in an attempt to minimise the fallout.
A notice on the shop’s door read: “Due to the very challenging trading environment, it is with regret that we announce that Eurospar, Watch House Cross, has ceased trading with immediate effect.”
A letter given to staff went further: “It is unfortunately a simple fact that the excessive level of insurance claims and resulting high insurance premiums, mean we stand to lose a substantial amount of money and simply cannot continue trading.”
Management met staff at the Greenhills Hotel, where they were assured they would be paid as normal, and their redundancy obligations would be met through an application to the social insurance fund.
Emerging from that meeting, Peggy Galvin, who worked in the shop for eight years, said she was “feeling disappointed, very disappointed”.
“They must have known for a long time the shop was closing. No stock has been coming in. The shelves were empty, and there was nothing in store. The fact we were not told sooner makes me so angry.”
Sources have indicated there was also a high level of theft from the store. This led to higher security costs, further undermining the viability of the store.
Community activist Dean Quinn said the closure would have a “huge impact”.
“Everyone used the store for different reasons: the post office, there is a bank machine there, and people got their food there. It is a real pity,” he said.
Kileely man Richard Vaughan added that Eurospar had also welcomed shoppers from neighbouring communities.
“People are going to be up in a heap altogether over this. People came here from Ballynanty, and further away across the northside. There should have been some sort of warning.”
Local parish priest Fr Tony O’Riordan said there was “a sense of devastation” for the employees of the shop.
“As a community, we have to look at the situation and see if it can be reopened or a replacement found,” he said.
The priest blamed depopulation of the Moyross area for the closure.
“The demolition of so many houses, and outward migration, as we forewarned, is threatening the viability of essential services. The closure of the shop is proof of that.”
People claiming social welfare payments were being asked to attend the Caherdavin post office, with the Northside Family Resource Centre laying on free buses for the elderly and infirm. To avail of these, contact 061-326623.
A spokesman for the postal service said the search was under way for an alternative location, but warned that this would take some time, as “we have to go through a certain process”.
Cllr Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Fein, said: “People were just stunned at the way it happened. No notice was given, it was just a real shock.”
Labour councillor Frankie Daly said the store “was a cornerstone of the community, and now it has been taken away”.
“It is of crucial importance that it is addressed immediately to sustain some type of shop moving forward.”
Eurospar took over the running of the Watch House Cross store from Supervalu back in 2010. Management at the store have declined to comment.