Belfast bakery at the centre of 'gay cake' row closes branch

The company refused to make a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets and a campaign logo

Belfast bakery at the centre of 'gay cake' row closes branch

This file photo shows a person walking past the Ashers bakery outlet on Royal Avenue in Belfast, which is to close | Image: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

A branch of a baking company cleared of discrimination after they refused to make a cake promoting gay marriage in Northern Ireland has closed down.

Daniel and Amy McArthur, who run Belfast-based Ashers Baking Company, confirmed they had decided not to renew the lease on one of their branches.

Their store on Royal Avenue had suffered from a fall in shoppers in the area after the city centre's Primark store burnt down, the owners told the Belfast Telegraph.

The couple had refused to make a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets and the logo of campaign group Queerspace for activist Gareth Lee.

File photo

After a long-running legal battle over whether the McArthurs broke discrimination laws, it was ruled the couple did not refuse to make the cake because of Mr Lee's sexual orientation.

A huge fire broke out in the Bank Buildings in Belfast's Royal Avenue at the end of August, with the Primark store suffering extensive damage.

The Belfast Telegraph reported that footfall in the city centre has slumped by a third since the fire.

The owners of the bakery chain insist the company is trading well but that it did not make commercial sense to renew the lease on the Royal Avenue branch.

Ashers bakery owners Daniel and Amy McArthur outside the Supreme Court in London, where five justices unanimously ruled they did not discriminate against gay rights activist Gareth Lee on the ground of sexual orientation | Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

Mr McArthur told the paper: "It simply comes down to the figures. We decided not to renew the lease."

"Belfast city centre isn't busy enough - our other shops are much busier."

He said the closure had been planned "for some time" and that there would be no job losses.

The company has nine outlets across Northern Ireland.