Supermarket chain giant Tesco has decided to scrap plans to open a store in Castledawson, the Mail can exclusively reveal.
The firm had earmarked a site in the centre of the south Derry village for an Express store.
But a company representative this week revealed they were no longer interested in going ahead with the project.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are no longer pursuing a new store opportunity in Castledawson. I appreciate this will be disappointing news locally.
“In the last year we have taken a number of difficult decisions about our investment plans across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“We have a number of nearby stores which continue to offer the local community great service and value, as well as our popular Tesco.com service.”
It was back in August 2014 that Tesco first announced plans for a 4,000 sq ft outlet at the junction of Bridge Street with Main Street, Castledawson.
The proposed development was to be located on land presently occupied by a public house. Sketch plans of the Express store - which was expected to create around 20 jobs - were also released.
The company had hoped to have the store open to the public by Christmas 2014, providing outstanding planning approval was received from the former Magherafelt Council.
The firm’s decision not to go ahead with the store is not entirely surprising given its battle to halt falling sales and profits.
Last year, the company announced its decision to cut costs and later revealed it was planning to close 43 ‘unprofitable’ stores (including 43 Express stores) across the UK and not to open any new stores until trading conditions picked up.
Tesco’s other store in the area at Magherafelt opened in February 2012 following months of speculation as to who had acquired the former Supervalu site at Ballyronan Road.
Reacting to news that Tesco is no longer planning to open an Express store at Castledawson, DUP councillor Anne Forde said it was “unfortunate”. She said the store would have provided employment for local people and given shoppers more variety.
“I suppose businesses in Castledawson will welcome the decision because it will mean less competition for them,” she said. Cllr Forde added if the development had gone ahead it would have given a facelift to the Bridge Street area.
“What we are left with now is a vacant site which does not help the appearance of the village,” she said.
SDLP Cllr Martin Kearney said he was disappointed to learn that Tesco will not be developing a store.
“A development like this would have provided significant job creation and variety of choice for the local people,” he said.