Belfast Harbour set for another record year as top chef reveals restaurant plans for new hotel
Belfast Harbour will reveal record turnover in the latest accounts, its chairman has said.
Dr David Dobbin said while the final figures have yet to be revealed, the business will post its best ever results for 2016.
He was speaking to guests in the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office at the launch of celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli's new restaurant as part of the City Quays development.
Mr Novelli said the waterside eatery, based in the soon-to-completed Marriott AC Hotel, was a "tremendous" opportunity.
Belfast Harbour posted record pre-tax profits of almost £30m in 2015, buoyed by an overall boost in goods and freight volumes.
The port, which handles more than two-thirds of Northern Ireland's sea trade, saw turnover rise by 3.4% to £54.3m that year.
Yesterday Mr Dobbin said the port had invested around £400m, and in its time had created 10 million sq ft of business and office space.
He added that one of its strengths was being able to reinvest its profits in the Harbour.
And Mr Novelli said Belfast and City Quays were perfect for his first foray into Ireland.
"I'm delighted to be the first chef with plans to open a restaurant at City Quays and really looking forward to welcoming guests to Belfast's newest landmark development at the Marriott Hotel," he said.
"The city has a well-deserved reputation as a must-visit food destination, and I can't wait to add my expertise to what is an already successful and thriving hospitality industry here."
Graeme Johnston, property director of Belfast Harbour, said: "Recognised across the UK, Ireland, Europe and beyond, Jean-Christophe Novelli is a true champion of high quality, down-to-earth and innovative menu combinations and his decision to choose City Quays, and Belfast, is a testament to the success of our development plans for this key city centre site and the strong demand for great hospitality and the vibrancy of our visitor economy.
"Strategically located, this exciting new restaurant is great news for the local economy and will provide a welcome addition to Belfast and Northern Ireland's strong hospitality, leisure and tourism offer.
"It's a real coup for Belfast."
The French chef already operates a number of restaurants in Britain.
The hotel at Belfast's newest waterfront development will feature a 104-seat restaurant, as well as a bar, lounge, gym, meeting rooms and almost 190 luxury bedrooms.
The restaurant is due to open later this year and will be called Jean-Christophe Novelli at City Quays.
It will feature a large glazed facade, allowing its diners to enjoy the views across Belfast Lough.