Rio & Brazil invests in outlet at Belfast's Victoria Square
Northern Irish high-end fashion store Rio & Brazil, one of the province's oldest surviving independents, is set to open in Victoria Square Shopping Centre. The business, which was founded 40 years ago by David Simpson, is relocating from Wellington Place to set up in a new store in the shopping centre in a £200,000 investment.
The new store will employ 14 people, including three new employees.
For many years Rio, which sold menswear, and its womenswear section Brazil, were go-to destinations in Belfast for mid-market to high-end labels.
Steven Simpson - the son of David - and his wife Jeane now run the business. It was originally based in Bradbury Place on Belfast's Golden Mile, and later operated two shops in Donegall Arcade.
But the Donegall Arcade shops closed some years ago, and the shutters came down on the Bradbury Place spot in 2012.
However, the company fought back with successful online business mrandmrsstitch.com, along with a bricks and mortar store in Wellington Place.
Mr Simpson said the opening of Victoria Square had forced it to adapt. "Before Victoria Square opened in 2008 we were the only place in Belfast where you could buy labels like Tommy Hilfiger and Ted Baker, but everything changed when Victoria Square opened.
"But that made us change the way we did things and look for other labels to stock."
It will now bring labels including Circle of Gentlemen, Farah Vintage, Matchless London and Save The Queen to Victoria Square for the first time.
Mr Simpson added: "Our new unit is 25% bigger than our current store and is situated at the main Victoria Street entrance, with prominent, on-street windows.
"This store will give us a bigger presence, allowing us to carry more labels and offer our consumers a bigger choice."
Mr Simpson added: "The high footfall and location of the unit in Victoria Square presented us with an opportunity to grow the business.
"The centre has high visibility and attracts a lot of international customers."
Commercial property agency Lambert Smith Hampton acted on behalf of Victoria Square to secure the new tenant.
Associate director of retail agency, Gary Martin, said: "We are delighted to have been able to bring Rio & Brazil to Victoria Square.
"The owner's decision to invest in a new store in Victoria Square is testament to the strength of the scheme as the top retail destination in Northern Ireland. We're confident Rio & Brazil will add to the already diverse retail offering in the centre and be a huge hit."