Limerick Chamber chief calls for city retail boost

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Limerick Chamber of Commerce CEO, James Ring has said that Limerick’s Twenty-Thirty plan won’t be the ‘overwhelming success’ if retail issues are not addressed Picture: Sean Curtin

Limerick Chamber of Commerce CEO, James Ring has said that Limerick’s Twenty-Thirty plan won’t be the ‘overwhelming success’ if retail issues are not addressed Picture: Sean Curtin

LIMERICK’s ambitious Twenty-Thirty economic and development strategy will not be the “overwhelming success that it is hoped to be” if the city’s retail issues are not addressed.

That is according to Limerick Chamber of Commerce CEO, Dr James Ring, who has mooted the idea of a “purpose-built shopping centre” in the city centre.

He said that this would “allow us to then attract the brands that are up in Kildare village and that are up in Dublin. Then the people will not have to travel there anymore. That is the solution.”

He told the Leader that there are “gaps” in Limerick’s retail sector.

“It is all well and good to have shops, jobs and offices. But also what you need is people living in the city centre and more options around retail in the city centre,” he said. 

He added that the progress in the city’s retail scene has been “slower” in recent years, following a period of economic decline.

“It is very easy to judge the jobs announcements, they are very measurable KPIs [key performance indicators]. Retail is different. When talking to retailers, they are struggling. It isn’t as easy as it is in other sectors. And I think slowly but surely, they are getting back on their feet. And we have to understand that, as a city, both from the public’s perception and also from the officials’ perception of it. It is imperative that we shop local because that will obviously be of huge benefit to our city.

“If we supported it [Limerick retail] more, it would get stronger and stronger. That’s why it is so frustrating for me to see rates increases, because these rates increases are going directly onto people who are struggling. And 1.75% doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you are breaking even, it is 1.75% less than you have, and that is not good enough.”

Dr Ring is encouraging the public to shop local ahead of the Christmas celebrations.

“If we do support our own, we are employing our own as well. And that’s a big thing, so you’re putting more and more money back into the local economy,” he said.