Workers stunned at store closure
Superquinn on North Main Street in Naas, Co Kildare was buzzing and full of shoppers at 2.30pm yesterday.
The only sign that something was amiss came as shoppers paused occasionally to commiserate with staff who are to lose their jobs within weeks.
The retailer announced on Wednesday that it was pulling out of the town on February 4 because its current lease has expired. The news left the supermarket's 120 staff dumbfounded.
Checkout assistant Elizabeth looked like a woman who had accepted her fate.
"I'd say we're finished. Not today, but maybe tomorrow," she said.
Baker Alan Givens has worked in supermarkets since 1979.
"I've been with Superquinn since 2004. Feargal Quinn was here when I started. This is part of life, some guys will get redeployed, some won't."
The Mandate trade union met with Superquinn's management yesterday morning.
"The mood of staff has shifted from one of shock and disappointment to anger because of the short notice given by their employer," said its assistant secretary Gerry Light.
He explained that Superquinn's landlord, Primark, which trades as Penneys, had demanded possession of the premises. However, he said the owners would have known this "well in advance".
"Superquinn should have made better contingency or at the very least, they should have been informing the workers in a much more detailed way for months now.
"They left it until the last moment to come in and drop the bombshell."
Mr Light said the union would be holding Superquinn to their promise to redeploy staff where necessary.
In 2007, the retailer sold six of its properties, including Naas, in a sale and leaseback deal to Friends First. Superquinn made €142.5m at the time.
The supermarket then purchased another 5.5-acre site in Naas where it planned to build a new shopping centre. However, this never went ahead.
Friends First then sold the premises in Naas to Primark and that company is now planning to redevelop the site.