Fabric shop Spinning Wheel is leaving Donegall Square
Belfast shopping institution The Spinning Wheel is leaving its headquarters in Donegall Square after four decades, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The family-owned fabric and curtains shop, which has a coffee shop on its upper floor, confirmed it was moving on to another city centre location later this year.
Bakery chain Greggs is set to move in in its place, setting up its Northern Ireland headquarters in Donegall Square West as it rolls out 50 shops around the province.
Spinning Wheel director Rory Curran said: "We've been successfully trading at Donegall Square West for almost 40 years but are planning to move premises within the coming year.
"We have been actively looking at city centre locations and have shortlisted a number of sites, with a view to confirming our new location before summer. It's a new phase for The Spinning Wheel, and one we are very excited about."
The Scottish Provident building that houses the Spinning Wheel and other businesses, as well as offices, is owned by bookmaking family the McLeans.
One property insider said he believed rent may simply have become too expensive for the Spinning Wheel to remain there.
"Everybody wants to be on the square now, especially food companies," he added.
High-end cake shop Patisserie Valerie is opening on the ground floor of the building, which is also home to a large Centra and bar/restaurant The Apartment, as well as luxury offices on the upper floors.
Mr Curran would not say if cost was a factor in their decision.
"Donegall Square West has worked extremely well for us for many years," he explained. "However, we felt that the time was right to seek out a new high footfall location in the heart of city centre retailing."
Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said: "We wish the Spinning Wheel well with their move. They are a very well-respected independent retailer in Belfast city centre.
"With the relocation of any business, it brings challenges, and hopefully their customers will support them in their new premises."
But he added: "Belfast city centre needs a strategy to attract more independent retailers as they offer something different to consumers and contribute to a diverse retail offer."
While known mainly as a bricks and mortar retailer selling buttons, curtains and material, the Spinning Wheel has also ventured into online retailing.
The company launched 365curtains.com to sell curtains and bedding online in a £30,000 investment last year.
Greggs submitted a planning application for its work to turn 9 Donegall Square West into a bakery in January this year.
The Belfast Telegraph first reported that Greggs was to establish 50 units in Northern Ireland in October last year.