Iceland boss rejects closure talk

Iceland have denied rumours that the company's Longford store is to close, saying they are committed to their staff and the local community. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
The Managing Director of frozen foods chain Iceland has underlined the company’s plans for its Longford store and strenuously denied rumours that the store is set to close.

The Managing Director of frozen foods chain Iceland has underlined the company’s plans for its Longford store and strenuously denied rumours that the store is set to close.

Rumours over the firm’s long term commitment to the county had been circulating in the wake of announcements that both Shaws Department Store and Homebase in Longford are set to close.

However, in a statement issued to the Longford Leader this week, Iceland management reaffirmed its intention to remain in Longford for the long term.

Managing Director of Iceland Ireland, Ron Metcalfe underlined Iceland’s commitment to Longford.

“Iceland opened its Longford store in June 2014 as part of a strategic five year expansion plan which will see the business opening sites across Ireland.

“We are 100 per cent committed to our Longford staff, store and the community and look forward to serving our customers, supporting local suppliers and contributing to the local economy for many years to come.”

The Iceland chief insisted it was a case of someone “playing silly buggars”, as he admitted neither he nor his fellow senior executives had any idea where the rumours had come from.

Mr Metcalfe said the entire episode had taken its toll on its Longford staff, all of whom have since been reassured their jobs are safe.

“You don’t spend that amount of money to close it 12 months later,” he stated.

“The sad thing about all of this is that people’s jobs and livelihoods are being affected and they shouldn’t be.”

Mr Metcalfe added that Iceland now has a dedicated property department based in Ireland and he suggested that further stores openings could be on the cards.

“Nothing is off the radar. We want to be in every town, every province in Ireland.

“Cavan could be an option, Sligo, Carrick, Mullingar. We are actively looking the length and breadth of Ireland,” he said.

The comments from Iceland’s most senior executive looks set to provide some welcome respite after a week of renewed turmoil for a local economy.

The recen t announcement that Homebase at the N$ Axis Centre looks set to close was followed by news that Shaws Department Store on Market Square Longford is closing next week after just 15 months in business . Both closures could affect around 30 jobs and deal a serious blow to the local retail economy.