Cancer Research UK to open Northern Ireland superstore
Northern Ireland is set to get its first charity 'superstore' when Cancer Research UK unveils a massive new shop in Belfast - but it won't face a hefty rates bill like its shopping centre neighbours.
Cancer Research UK is opening a huge 5,000 sq ft store at Cityside retail park at York Street in the north of the city.
But, unlike other retailers at the popular shopping centre, it won't face a rates bill amounting to thousands of pounds each year, due to its charitable status.
A number of other shops in the area said they were "not concerned" about having to pay rates while the new charity store would avoid the annual bill.
One shop manager said: "I wouldn't have any problem with it ... but if it was me paying the bills it could be different."
Cancer Research UK shops sell items donated by the public.
Goods include books, toys, clothes and homeware, with proceeds going towards the charity's research.
And it's the charity's first ever superstore in Northern Ireland, creating five new jobs.
It's also trying to find volunteers to help out at the store, adding a further 300 hours of support work each week.
The new store is roughly five times the size of a normal Cancer Research UK shop.
And Costa coffee is also set to open up at Cityside. Colleen Fox of letting agents Savills said that "demand from the major coffee houses at Cityside was very strong given the strong fundamentals of the scheme and the gap in the market".
"We are also delighted to facilitate Cancer Research's first ever Northern Irish superstore."
Glyn Roberts of the NI Independent Retail Trade Association said: "Charity shops have their place on the high street, and are an important part of town and city centres. What we would raise is that they make some contribution to rates."
Mr Roberts launched a joint campaign with Hospitality Ulster earlier this month aimed at reforming business rates across Northern Ireland.
"The joint scheme with Hospitality Ulster is our main scheme. Charities will make their own commercial decisions and where they operate and how they retail," he said.
Speaking about the growth of the Cityside development, Mr Roberts said: "A lot of these shopping centres are going through a period of big change, such as the likes of Forestside and other places, which are doing well, while others are struggling.
"I do think, like all retail, it's a constant process of change and innovation."
Coffee giant Costa has taken over a 2,000 sq ft unit close to GinoNV and Poundworld. It follows the announcement in March that Cityside was undergoing a £2m revamp.