Local retailers, Martin and Fiona Connolly, who own and run Connolly’s SPAR in Downpatrick, have announced the closure of their store after 27 years of serving their local community.

Connolly’s SPAR currently employs 20 staff from the local community, and Henderson Retail, which will operate the new EUROSPAR Downpatrick set to open at the end of April, has announced that 17 of these staff will move to the new superstore, as well as an additional 50 new jobs being created.

Connolly’s SPAR will close on Thursday 18th April.

Martin and Fiona took over the store in 1997, and over the years have made major investments including two significant refurbishments, the biggest in 2006, to bring top quality products and services to the community.

Alongside their store staff, the couple has always had the community at the centre of their store, often supporting local schools including Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, St Mary’s and De La Salle High School. The store team also fundraised for local charities and supported local community groups and organisations such as Fountain Foodbank.

Fiona commented, “We want to thank all our staff, past and present, for their hard work and dedication over the years, and helping the store become such a big part of the local community.

“We also want to extend a huge thanks to our shoppers for supporting us over the past 27 years. We have loved serving this community and it has been a pleasure to see friendly faces instore every day and get to know everyone so well. We will miss working in the Downpatrick community and wish all our staff the best of luck with their move to the brand new store.”

Paddy Doody, Sales and Marketing Director at Henderson Group, commented, “Fiona and Martin Connolly are dedicated retailers and we wish to congratulate them on a successful 27 years of Connolly’s SPAR. They are much-loved by the local community and passionate about their shoppers, supporting charities and local schools in Downpatrick. They will be greatly missed by all in the local community.”

The instore Community Team will be dedicated to making a positive difference throughout the Downpatrick community and the store will continue to support various local charities and community groups.

The new store will also bring a huge supermarket offering including a hot food-to-go counter serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Devlin’s local butcher counter and a Texaco fuel site. Fresh Delish favourites will be available for shoppers with the Delish Bakery offering freshly baked goods every day, and the Delish production Kitchen where meals will be prepared in store, as well as everyday essentials and a focus on value for shoppers.

Fiona and Martin also own and run Connolly’s VIVO Essentials in Strangford, which they will be continuing to operate, alongside their son Aidan.