M&S relocating Belfast store, Tesco eyes new Royal Avenue store
MARKS and Spencer is relocating a south Belfast store into a nearby Co-op supermarket, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
And in a sign of a its continued convenience store roll-out, Tesco has committed to a new Express store on Royal Avenue in the city.
M&S is moving its Lisburn Road Simply Food store across the road to the Co-op store, which has a large car park and a branch of the Post Office.
A spokeswoman for M&S said: "Our intention is to relocate the M&S Malone Simply Food store to larger premises on the Lisburn Road, currently occupied by the Co-Op.
"The move will make for a bigger and better shopping experience for our customers and will see all Co-Op staff transfer over to become M&S employees."
But the change prompted fears for users of the Co-op's Post Office from Sinn Fein Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir, who said the community would lose out.
"Post Office chiefs need to think again on decision to close the Post Office inside the Co-Op store," he tweeted.
However, a spokeswoman for the Post Office said: "We would like to reassure customers that we are committed to maintaining services in the Lisburn Road area of Belfast and are currently liaising with interested parties to find a solution."
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said the Post Office had been "an important footfall driver for the many independent retailers on that part of Lisburn Road".
He added: "Sadly we have lost too many Post Offices in recent years and hope that this one can be saved."
Meanwhile, the march of Tesco Express continues after it emerged as the new tenant of the ground floor of Sinclair House on Royal Avenue, two minutes' walk from its Tesco Metro.
The future store is part of a UK auction by auction house Allsop, to be held in London next month, and has a guide price of £700,000 to £800,000.
According to the Allsop brochure, Tesco is due to start trading in November and has signed up to 20 years at Sinclair House.
Surveyor Eamonn Murphy of Murphy Surveyors said: "Tesco is continually looking for convenience stores of 4,000 to 7,000 sq ft."
Expresses had recently opened at the Ormeau Bakery development on Ormeau Road and on Larne's Main Street, he said.7,000
The size in square feet of stores being sought by Tesco