More than 44 years of sports retailing will end this month for business owner Billy Flower, who is stepping out of the well-regarded Sportsworld store for good before the retail world starts to re-open post-Coronavirus.

Sportsworld closed its doors along with most other town centre businesses when lockdown came into effect on 23 March and Billy announced on social media last week that the current pandemic has given him time to think about his own plans for the future.

Billy said: “I have come to an agreement with Iain Don Murray of No.10 Retail Warehouse to continue the business. It was very important to me that the business remained local and that it would be well looked after. Iain provides that security.

“Iain, his wife and young family have been involved in local retailing for many years and I feel that the Sportsworld business will fit in well with his current stock lines. We are confident that the transition can be made gradually and successfully without impacting the local shopping scene.”

Billy’s departure has led to an outpouring of gratitude and appreciation from customers and colleagues. Stornoway historian and football enthusiast Malcolm Macdonald said: “You provided a safe pair of hands for the sporting community. All good things come to an end”.

Gordon Greenhowe expressed many people’s thoughts when he said: “Right back to the first sports shop, your shops have always been a staple of island life and growing up on the island. The old shop in particular was a football paradise and lives long in the memory. You can retire proudly.”

As retail shops re-open, Sportsworld will continue to trade from its current premises and existing gift vouchers will remain valid until the end of July.

The new owners have announced that there will be a new area at No.10 Francis Street, dedicated to sports and leisure and incorporating the Nike and Adidas brands amongst others. Also moving to No.10 is Sportsworld’s trophy and engraving service.

Billy signed off with good wishes both to the new owner of the business and to his former staff and customers. He said: “I wish Iain every success as he continues with the Sportsworld experience and would urge our local community to now, more than ever, support him and his family and buy locally and help our island economy.

“In closing, I would like to thank all my staff and customers over the years for their incredible support. It was all very much appreciated.”

Picture shows Billy Flower, sponsor of many a sporting award.