Top stores move in as west Belfast's Kennedy Centre hits full occupancy
West Belfast's Kennedy Centre has reached full occupancy because it is at the heart of the community and offers its customers shopping for the all the family, its manager has said.
The shopping centre's fortunes are in contrast to that of Connswater retail park in east Belfast, which has lost Dunnes Stores and anchor tenant Tesco in recent months.
The Kennedy Centre has seen JD Sports and Card Factory take up new stores in the last few weeks, and another UK national brand is set to announce its opening at the centre next week.
This is despite a slight rise in rates following the revalution.
The centre has been owned by Hugh Kennedy since it was established in 1981.
In 2009 it went under a major extension.
John Jones, Kennedy Centre manager, said this investment and Sainsbury's entering the retail complex had been key to the success.
"I think it all started when we completed our extension in 2009, with Sainsbury's as our anchor tenant. And from there we have just kept pushing," he said.
"This is the first time we have been 100% since we expanded."
In 2008, Sainsbury's bought the Kennedy family-owned Curley's, replacing both its stores at the west Belfast centre, and in Dungannon.
Mr Jones said the Kennedy Centre had always been a big part of the community in west Belfast.
"Our footfall figures have remained level over the last 12 month, with a big increase occurring in the last five years."
He added: "We'd like to thank all our customers for their continued loyalty.
"The centre not only appeals to the local community but also attracts customers from further afield."
Mr Jones said the shopping centre - which has a cinema and food court - has something to offer for all members of the family.
"With the wide variety of retail stores and food outlets in the centre, we have something for everyone.
"Rather than coming in, doing their shopping and going - they can do a bit of everything."
Ryan Kee of letting agent Lambert Smith Hampton said: "The Kennedy Centre has been a phenomenal success story.
"There remains strong demand from retailers to get into the centre and it is one of the few shopping centres in Northern Ireland that has little to no voids."