Penny pinching blamed for business closures

A lack of disposable income has been blamed for the closure of a number of businesses within the Omagh area in recent weeks and months, according to the president of the local Chamber of Commerce.

Kevin Martin was speaking following the news last week that yet more business outlets had ceased trading in and around the town.

Recent weeks have seen the closure of McGurk’s Bar in James Street, a business that was established within the last decade; The Millstone Bar and Restaurant at Gortnagarn, which has changed hands on a number of occasions over the years; Flash in the Pan café and take-away on the Derry Road and American Joe’s take-away in John Street.

Omagh town centre has also recently seen Thyme restaurant – previously known as the Pink Elephant – put the ‘closed’ shutters up.

However, despite the difficultues experienced by the hospitality sector, the president of the Chamber of Commerce believes there is sufficient buoyancy within other areas, such as agriculture and engineering, to see the town and district through these difficult times.

“Disposable income has dropped considerably,” Kevin Martin pointed out. “We don’t have the same demand within the likes of the building trade and that has a knock-on effect through a lot of sectors.

“These are difficult times indeed with town centre businesses affected by the likes of parking and rates issues and the generally high costs involved in running a business at the present time. When things get tight then everything gets eroded.”

The Chamber of Commerce head also called for ‘joined-up thinking’ among local agencies in an effort to make the town more attractive and
sustainable to businesses and shoppers alike.

“There needs to be more co-ordination among agencies,” Mr Martin said. “There is very little joined-up thinking and the town has nothing special to offer. It needs the likes of a multistorey car park around the bus depot and a footbridge linking the car park to the back market and therefore into the town centre.


“In recent times it has not been good for the town. When you look back seven or eight years when Omagh was being put forward as a ‘Location
of Choice,’ there have not been many more attributes to make it any more attractive.”

Emigration was another factor that Mr Martin believed had contributed to the overall hard times witnessed locally in recent times.

“A lot of people have left from the town and outlying areas. Younger ones have gone to the likes of Australia and others have had to move to
England and Scotland to get employment and that has taken its toll on the amount of money in the area.”

However, the Chamber head believes the town and area is still well enough poised to ride out the economic downturn.

“I don’t see Omagh too vulnerable in the short term,” he added.

“There is buoyancy in the agricultural, engineering and mining sectors in and around the town and a level of rock solid businesses in the area, so
hopefully we can see our way through these hard times.”