A MAJOR retailer is set to leave Irvine town centre later this year.

The Times can confirm that Halfords is due to shut up shop after more than a decade of trading at the East Road Retail Park site.

It is understood that around a dozen employees will be affected by the move.

A Halfords spokesperson said: “We have received notice from our landlord to terminate the lease on our Irvine store later this year.

"All colleagues have been informed and we are looking to offer them opportunities at our branches in Kilmarnock and Ayr.

"We offer the full Halfords range of products and services at these stores.”

The permanent closure of the local branch of the motoring accessories and cycling store comes after a warning from bosses over falling profits.

The London-listed firm said it has been “unable to recruit enough skilled technicians” for its autocentres business, limiting growth ahead of the peak season for MOTs.

Shares tumbled by more than a fifth earlier this year and in an update to investors, Graham Stapleton, chief executive officer at Halfords, said: “With unprecedented demand in our motoring services business, we are particularly impacted by the nationwide skills shortage, with recruitment proving to be extremely challenging in the current labour market.”

There has been speculation that another retailer currently based elsewhere in the town could be set to move into what will soon become the vacant former Halfords store and the empty ex Argos unit next door.

Argos closed down in late-2020 and moved into the Sainsbury's supermarket on Ayr Road.