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Family-run store on Derry’s Strand Road temporarily closes for huge £1.6m redevelopment
27 Jul 2018
A family-run Derry store this week temporarily closed its doors for the very first time in 21 years after being open for 7,532 consecutive days to make way for a £1.6million redevelopment. Moran’s Centra on the Strand Road – a family owned and run Derry business - has closed for around eight months to allow for the complete redevelopment of the site. After 21 years of service it took bulldozers to finally force its closure as the Strand Road store will be demolished on July 30 to make way for a ‘reinvention’ of the business. When the store first opened in 1997, Donegal drivers still filled their fuel tanks in Derry, unleaded and diesel were 59.9p per litre, the Strand Road was still single-lane and the service station’s deli - complete with all-day breakfast, jumbo breakfast rolls and jambons - was an exciting new concept in Ireland. The Moran family has now decided it’s time to introduce fresh ideas and is planning to knock it all down and start again. That’s how John and Donna Moran started the business - the old Esso service station was razed to the ground within months of them buying it in 1996. “And that’s how we’re going to re-invent ourselves once again,” John explains. “We’ve been open for 7,532 days, non-stop – even on Christmas Day. We’ve not closed one single day in 20 years, 7 months and 15 days. I’d imagine that’s some kind of record, if not in all of Northern Ireland, certainly in the North West.” The redevelopment will include a state-of-the-art new store and an innovative food-to-go concept in an investment of £1.6m. The project will take eight months to complete and will create 15 new full and part time jobs and employees will be retained where possible during the period of construction. He added: “We must keep all our long-standing, hardworking staff throughout construction because we owe it to them for their loyalty. We know how important they are to our business. “Leaving our customers without a store was a big decision to make and we apologise to all of them. People are saying they will miss us something terrible, but the store needs refurbished and the only way to do the job right is to flatten it completely and start again. “We have listened and will continue to listen to our customers, and we believe strongly that innovation is the best way to bring our customers the improvements in service and offering that they deserve,” John adds. Back in 1997, Moran’s Centra on Strand Road was one of the first Centra Stores in Northern Ireland and a part of one of the biggest innovations in fresh food to go when it brought the ‘service station deli revolution’ to the North West. “The concept was so alien – we had the first service station deli in Derry and it was among the first on the island. People thought we were mad. I remember one of our friends saying: ‘Derry people won’t get up to buy hot breakfast from a shop, are you nuts?’ “The concept was new, so it was a big move for us at the time.” And the food offering played a big part in sustaining the new venture when fuel sales suffered within a year of opening. However, the new store, which is due to open in February 2019, will see an even greater investment in the fuel forecourt. “We now see a much brighter future in it and that’s played a big part in our decision to make such a significant investment in this infrastructure. “By its very nature, installing new fuel tanks, new pumps and new infrastructure is making a massive statement to say our fuel business is here to stay.” John is undeterred by Brexit uncertainty as he believes the family business - which traded during conflict, peace and recession in Derry - will continue to flourish whatever the outcome. “Brexit could be the worst thing ever or the best thing ever, especially when it comes to fuel sales – we just don’t know. Why wait? “We know that the time has come to move our business forward once again.”
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