Traders must take a long-term view of trading conditions and not just the here and now according to the proprietor of one of Newry’s longest established businesses. Jack Murphy whose Hill Street Jewellers celebrated it 40th anniversary this year said that the ‘minor inconvenience’ of the ongoing public realm scheme paled into insignificance when compared with the lasting benefits the scheme will deliver. “This is the third public realm scheme on Hill Street since I have been here and it has been the most civilised as well,” He said. “But you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs – something that is pretty apt at Easter- but it is for long term gain.” Mr Murphy added that the difficulties experienced by some traders should also be taken in context of the difficulties local businesses faced in the past. “We opened on March 20 1972,” He said. “We came in just as many of the English companies were leaving due to the Troubles. We were out with bomb scares three times in the first week. For a long time Hill Street was gated. There was a police check point in Kildare Street so the disruption of the scheme is nothing ion comparison. There is a different challenge now (in terms of the economy) but we have been here before and come through it. Experience is a huge, huge bonus in times like this but we (the local retail sector) have to battle because we want to survive – but one of the great things is the fighting spirit in Newry.” Having been involved in the Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade and City Centre Management through the years Jack believes traders can positively influence not only what happens on their shop floor but on the wider area. On this point Jack had a number of low cost suggestions he believes would benefit the current market place. “Traders can shape the broader area,” he said. And I’d love to improved signage in the city centre and I would change the sign on the car park at the back of the Cathedral to ‘Cathedral car park – leading to Hill Street Shopping.’ I would put archways on the side streets which lead on to Hill Street such as the Reporter office – a good example of this is Carnaby Street in London. The area has to be sold as a brand.” In terms of improvements that require large financial investment Jack believes a second Public Realm Scheme on Hill Street would prove beneficial – more so in the light of the Young Ireland Society’s proposal to refurbish and reopen St Colman’s Park at John Mitchel Place. “The park idea is good and will help Hill Street,” He said. “And I’d like to see the rest of Hill Street topped and tailed ( in the same style as the current works).” Last week the reporter confirmed that a £150,000 will be spent marketing the city after the current public scheme is completed – with a second £1.5m upgrade scheme planned for yet to be confirmed area of the city in 2013.
18th April 2012