Northern Ireland’s retail boom is continuing with news that 350 jobs will be created at a new supermarket in Co Down.
While the rest of the economy continues to struggle, the announcement that a major Sainsbury’s store is to be built in Balloo Retail Park near Bangor marks the latest in a series of major retail boosts in recent months.
However, an organisation which represents independent retailers has warned that the green light for another out-of-town superstore would ultimately cost more jobs than it would create.
Speaking about the Balloo development, Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: “This approval will see the development of a new modern store and will be a welcome boost in terms of job creation with approximately 350 full and part time jobs.”
The application includes partial demolition of an existing building, two warehouses and a new store.
Chris Templeman, head of property development at Sainsbury's, said: “We are delighted with the department's decision to grant planning permission for this proposal.
“The Bangor development represents a multi-million pound investment which includes the provision of a new Sainsbury's store and a refurbished Homebase.
“Throughout the application process we took part in a comprehensive dialogue with Planning Service. We are grateful for the department's positive engagement which has helped the application to progress to this stage.
“This development is great news for the local economy in terms of job creation and an additional Sainsbury's store means increased business for our local suppliers.”
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said the association did not lodge an objection to the Sainsbury’s in Bangor. But he said: “I don’t think it will be doing traders in Bangor town centre any favours. Bangor town centre needs new retailers and the opening of another out-of-town retailer will put further pressure on the retailers.
“I think the retail sector is very important to the economy, whether multiples or independents, but I don’t think planners should continue to give planning permission to out-of-town centres. They always result in a net loss of jobs as they ultimately destroy more jobs in town centres than they create.”