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Thai restaurant opening at former M&S store in Belfast

By Margaret Canning

A Thai takeaway and restaurant is set to open in a former Marks & Spencer Simply Food on Belfast's Lisburn Road. Camile Thai Kitchen, which is based in Dublin, will create 25 new jobs when it opens its doors at 348 Lisburn Road next month.

The unit close to the Chelsea Wine Bar has been empty for more than two years after M&S relocated to a bigger premises on the other side of the road.

Spokesman Daniel Greene said: "We're really excited to be opening in Belfast at last and bringing our special take on Thai food to a new audience."

The letting was concluded by the commercial property agents TDK Property Consultants, which acted on behalf of Camile Thai.

It is the fourth new restaurant to be opened by Camile in 2016. The chain now has 16 outlets, and it plans to open the latest in December.

Camile Thai was set up by Brody Sweeney, who also established the O'Brien sandwich bar chain.

That chain became a sprawling empire with sandwich bars in 15 countries, but collapsed in the economic downturn, leading Mr Sweeney to put the business into liquidation. But he bounced back with Camile Thai and opened its first outlet at Dolphin's Barn on Dublin's South Circular Road in 2010.

In an interview with Elite Franchise magazine this week, he said the delivery side of the business accounted for 70% of sales. "People these days want convenience," he added. "After a long day at work, they want to come home and have dinner brought to them, but they want it to be something special.

"We appeal to the young, urban professional from the Facebook generation who wants food delivered directly to their door."

Four out of Camile Thai's outlets are run as franchises.

Stephen Deyermond, partner at TDK, said he hoped the Lisburn Road spot would be the first of many in the city for the company.

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