The owner of a two-year-old Costcutter store in Larne, Country Antrim, who says he has been forced out of business by a new Asda superstore, has blamed the local council for allowing the out-of-town development.

John Murray, who closed the doors to his town centre store last month, said: "Unfortunately, I was left with little choice but to close as I could not compete on a level playing field with Asda. I am devastated to have to lay off all 40 of my staff, but since June we have lost a huge number of customers."

John believes the job losses could have been avoided if the local planning service had not granted permission for the massive new store.

Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retailers Association said that he was "appalled" that a small business had to close because of a bad planning decision. "If we had a fair system which supports town centres then these jobs would not have been lost," he said.

Asda said it hoped to help ensure the long-term success of Larne. However, David Hunter of Larne Traders Association said that several other independents in Larne were also under pressure.