A local long-established children's soft play centre has this evening announced that it is set to close its doors in the coming weeks.
Fun Factory, located in Pennybridge, Ballymena has been a firm favourite for many families for almost 13 years, but sadly confirmed on Saturday (27th January) that it will close in five weeks time.
Fun Factory blamed the closure on rising costs facing the business.
In an online statement, a spokesperson for Fun Factory announced the sad news saying:
"It is with great sadness that we are announcing the permanent closure of The Fun Factory. Our last day of business will be Sunday 3rd March.
"We have not taken this decision lightly and it is solely due to an excessive increase in costs. Most notably 130% increase in rent and rising energy costs. This has made it impossible to keep the business open without substantially increasing prices which we recognise would not be fair.
"We opened our doors on 6th August 2011 and have seen the support of our customers and local community grow year on year. For that, we would like to say a huge thank you to every single person that has contributed to our business’s success in any way.
"Our team have loved seeing the happy smiles of the wee faces in our play area and we have loved seeing those kids grow up to become staff members and parents themselves.
"To all our staff past and present, we would like to give you our sincere words of thanks! Your incredible dedication and energy have ensured that The Fun Factory maintained the ethos and high standards we have always strived for since we opened our doors.
"You have been the heart of this play area and have provided such joy to the kids that have visited us.
"Our last day is the 3rd March, and we would love to see as many people as possible in beforehand to say goodbye. Please remember to use any gift vouchers or golden tickets before this date and enjoy The Fun Factory once last time. Any parties that have been booked for after 3rd March will receive a full refund on their deposit.
"In closing, our warmest and sincere thanks to you all for your valued support and custom throughout the years! Many thanks, The Fun Factory"