Updated: 5th February 2020
The company behind Austins, one of the oldest department store businesses in Europe, has been forced into liquidation after failing to overcome a financial crisis in recent days.
Austin, whose only store has stood in the centre of the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland for decades, is now being wound up with the store itself seemingly having closed its doors for the final time.
A total of 53 staff members were told recently that they were to lose their jobs with immediate effect.
The trading side of Austins’ retail business was sold to a company called Hassonzender Ltd in November 2014, with the building in which its operations were based having been sold to the City Hotel Group at the same time.
A statement from the City Hotel Group said: “It is with regret that the directors of the City Hotel have learned from media reports of the closure of the business operated by the trading company known as Hassonzender Ltd.
“We would point out that the City Hotel Group have no involvement in the trading business conducted by Hassonzender Ltd. We were not consulted about, nor did we have any notice of this closure.”
Austins was first established in Derry in the 1830s and has been operating in the city ever since. Its main store has long lay within an iconic landmark building in the centre of modern day Derry.
Gary Middleton, a member of Northern Ireland’s legislative assembly, said: “The business has served generations of people in the city and beyond, and I am saddened to hear that it has gone into liquidation.”
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said: “This is truly dreadful news that one of oldest independent retailers in Europe is to close its doors after 186 years of trading in Londonderry.
“Austins was very much a destination retailer for Derry city centre and its closure will result in less footfall for the surrounding local traders. Our thoughts are with the 53 Austins staff and their families at this difficult time.” With 78 offices across the UK, you’re never far away from expert and confidential advice.