Asda tight-lipped over prospect of second Derry store
Speculation is rife in Londonderry that supermarket giant Asda has plans for a second store in the city.
Asda is currently awaiting planning permission for a store in the Waterside, but has refused to deny that it is about to buy a second site.
It is believed that Asda is about to seal a deal to buy the site of the former Arntz Belting factory, which has been lying vacant for two years.
However, both Asda and German-based Arntz remain tight-lipped on the sale — although an Asda spokesman confirmed it would like to expand in Derry beyond current plans for Crescent Link.
Asda spokesman Philip Bartram told the North West Telegraph that while Crescent Link is currently the company's sole proposal, it does not mark the end of its “aspirations”.
Mr Bartram said: “The only application Asda has at the minute for Derry is for the Crescent Link in the Waterside which we have been working with the Planners on for three months and we hope a final decision is close to being made for this application.
“It is not company policy to comment on any negotiations but Derry is a big city and a store on the Crescent Link would not end our aspirations for Derry.”
Derry City Council has already endorsed Asda's plans for the Waterside. Foyle MLA William Hay, who has been supportive of the Asda plans for Crescent Link, said he would not be surprised by a second application.
He said: “I was aware that Asda have been interested in a site on the West Bank of the city The site at Arntz would suit their purposes well.
“My previous experience from dealing with them has shown that they will not confirm their intentions to buy until the deal is sealed and the ink has dried.”
Arntz Belting refused to comment on suggestions that the 12-acre site at Pennyburn has a new owner, but councillor for the area Maeve McLaughlin said any plan for the development of the site would be looked at.
She said: “Since the Arntz Belting factory closed Sinn Féin have campaigned for this site to be used for much-needed job creation in the city .
“This is a massive strategic site and is close to the Fort George lands which are a key part of regeneration plans for Derry.”
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Asda said the proposed Crescent Link store would create up to 350 full and part-time jobs at the 40,000 sq ft supermarket. The company has denied other store plans “may be higher on their agenda”. However, it has stated that “Crescent Link would not end our aspirations for Derry”, leading to speculation that the city could end up with two Asda stores.