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Expansion could see Tiger open six stores and create 40 jobs across Northern Ireland

By Margaret Canning

Published 02/06/2016

Workers at Belfast’s Tiger, which has been compared to Ikea’s marketplace section
Workers at Belfast’s Tiger, which has been compared to Ikea’s marketplace section

Danish retailer Tiger hopes to open up to six stores and create more than 40 jobs in Northern Ireland by the end of next year.

Gillian Maxwell, director of Tiger Ireland, said the success of its Belfast branch on Castle Lane - its only fixed shop here so far - had prompted the expansion plan.

She added the company would be exploring a possible second location in the city, along with a branch in Londonderry and others in shopping centres and large towns across the province.

The businesswoman - who had no retail experience before joining Tiger - said the Belfast branch had done very well since opening in autumn last year.

"After the performance of the Belfast store, we thought, 'Why wouldn't we open more as we've had such a great start in Belfast and such positive feedback?'"

The business, which will soon be rebranded to become Flying Tiger Copenhagen, in line with its Danish parent company, also plans to open up to 12 new locations in the Republic, which will boost its all-island store estate by 50%.

Ms Maxwell, a former recruitment consultant, said she decided to help bring the Tiger brand to Ireland after falling for its products when she went into one of its London stores for the first time.

Tiger Ireland is now half-owned by Ms Maxwell and her husband Niall Stringer, with the remainder held by the Danish parent company.

Its goods, from toys to cutlery and more, are similar to those found in the marketplace section of Ikea, another Scandinavian retailer.

Ms Maxwell said the Belfast store had worked well despite an earlier disappointment in Newry in 2012, when a pop-up store in the Quays Shopping Centre failed to take hold over Christmas of that year.

She added that bottled water and white candles had been Belfast's top sellers, along with red-ribbon rolls and moustache-topped pens. "What we are offering is a really fun and quirky shop environment selling products that customers didn't know existed," Ms Maxwell added.

"We'll also sell people the things they need, but made in a high-design and quirky way."

Many of the firm's Republic of Ireland stores are on high streets, though it is likely to study setting up in shopping centres here. "The right location for us is anywhere that will have high footfall," Ms Maxwell said.

Shoe shop Ecco - also a Danish business - was a neighbour of Tiger but is now relocating to Victoria Square Shopping Centre.

Belfast Telegraph

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