A high-profile independent retailer in Northern Ireland has blamed a new out-of-town superstore and a recent rate rise for his two stores entering administration.

Frank McPolin, who employs 80 staff in his two stores in Banbridge, rued the impact of a new out-of-town Tesco hypermarket and a 30% increase in his rates bill after the recent revaluation.

His main store (Supervalu) has a Post Office and is a major footfall driver in Banbridge town centre for other traders.

Frank, who is also a NIIRTA board member, said: “With the huge out of town Tesco store opening drawing away trade and a staggering thirty percent increase in my rates bill, it has been increasingly difficult for my business to be competitive”

“We warned that the Tesco opening would have a detrimental impact on Banbridge Town Centre and sadly this warning has been proven right. The local politicians who supported this out-of -town hypermarket have serious questions to answer”

NIIRTA chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “This is sad news as Frank is a major employer in the town with a staff of 80. His store is a crucial part of Banbridge Town Centre’s retail offer. This is a difficult time for him and his staff and we hope for a positive outcome for the business”

“Frank’s situation proves beyond doubt of the destructive impact out of town superstores have on town centres and independent retailers. The new Town Centre First Planning Policy has come too late for retailers like Frank and we hope his situation is a lesson for all eleven councils to learn.

“We also need fundamental and radical reform of business rates and serious questions must be asked as to how the Rates Revaluation can hike Frank’s rates up by 30%.”