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25/09/2021

New retail group formed in Offaly town to plan for post-Covid future

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Tullamore Chamber President, Anthony Hanniffy pictured with the team at Sherry FitzGerald Lewis Hamill as non essential retail opened Paul

A NEW retail group aimed at relaunching Tullamore as a shopping destination for the post-Covid era has been formed by the Chamber of Commerce.

Announcing details of the new departure as non-essential retail opened for business in Tullamore on Monday morning last, Chamber President Anthony Hanniffy said the group planned to identify the opportunities offered for the town as a new business landscape emerged.

The group, chaired by Ciaran Stewart of Supermac's, has already officially met with county council officials and plans to liaise with the local authority and councillors to develop a strategy for the future.

Mr Hanniffy, who visited a number of businesses in the town centre as they re-opened on Monday last, said retailers were “absolutely delighted” to be back in business.

“The overwhelming feeling was one of relief and there was a palpable hope that this was the final lockdown and they will now be allowed to remain open for good,” said the Chamber President.

He added: “I visited shops to engage and chat with retailers and see what issues they had as the town reopens.”

Mr Hanniffy also welcomed Offaly County Council's decision to introduce free parking in all public car parking spaces in the town for a period of one hour until June 30.

He said he understood the decision will be reviewed at the end of the period and may be extended if conditions warrant it.

The Chamber chief said many businesses had developed an online aspect to their enterprises due to the Covid lockdown and he encouraged others to explore that avenue.

The CEO of local ecommerce firm, Dotser.ie, Loughnan Hooper said online opportunities must be capitalised on by local business in the post-Covid environment.

He said businesses needed to stay positive and be willing to open doors to new markets.

"If it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger," said Mr Hooper who added that many Offaly businesses had emerged from the pandemic fighting fit and determined to succeed.

Backing the Tribune's "Offaly's Back in Business" campaign, the Dotser CEO said Tullamore and Offaly people were resilient and would thrive in the new business environment.

Hilary Hamill of Sherry FitzGerald Lewis Hamill said she was thrilled to be able to open the doors to her premises and allow customers back in.

“The property market is alive and well and there is an unprecedented demand for new and old houses,” outlined Ms Hamill.

She added there was pent-up demand with strong prices while physical viewing was also back on since May 10 last.

The estate agent predicted a strong housing market in Tullamore and Offaly for the foreseeable future due in part to the growth in home working as a result of Covid.

Speaking at last Thursday's meeting of Tullamore Municipal District, Cllr Tony McCormack said people wanted “to get out there and use bars and restaurants and they want to go in and spend money.”

“Everywhere looks really well, the job we have done on the town centre is fantastic . . . it served us well during Covid because there were areas where people got coffee and stood around to chat and talk.”

Cllr Sean O'Brien welcomed the introduction of one hour free parking.

''It's a great incentive to come into Tullamore. I would appeal to people to stay in Tullamore and give Tullamore your first shot if you want to go shopping.”

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