03 January 2012

Recession forces Irish kitchen retailer to downsize

Jan 2012 Ollie Shortt

Award winning Irish kitchen retailer, Houseworks, has been forced to close its Belfast showroom as a direct result of the recession.

Houseworks, established by husband and wife team Mark and Rosie Shortt in 1983, is the exclusive agent for Siematic in Ireland. The company's 14,000 sq ft flagship showroom in Dublin remains, but the company has been forced to close the doors of its 5,000 sq ft showroom in Belfast, because of the downturn.

The showroom had been managed by Ollie Shortt (pictured), the couple's son and fellow Houseworks director, since it opened in 2002. He now takes on the new role of national sales director and will manage sales across Northern and Southern Ireland through the Dublin showroom.   

Speaking to kbbreview Shortt said: "Obviously the whole of Ireland has been hit very badly by the recession. We had been trying to negotiate a better rent agreement on the Belfast showroom for 18 months, to no avail. The Belfast showroom was award winning so closing it was certainly a difficult decision to make but we had to be realistic and make a decision, before the time came when we didn't have a choice. All sales leads will now be passed through the Dublin showroom. Of course we realise that we may lose some sales by not having a presence in Belfast but, Dublin is such a destination, we're confident that most of our customers will be happy to travel to our flagship Dublin showroom."

Shortt confirmed that two designers from the Belfast showroom had been made redundant prior to the final closure of the Belfast showroom in November.

Despite the difficult trading conditions in Ireland, Shortt is confident that by closing the Belfast showroom, Houseworks can continue to trade successfully from its flagship store in Dublin, which has once again been short listed for the kbbreview kitchen retailer of the year award.

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