Harvey Norman is on the move to its new flagship furniture store
Retailer relocates from Newtownabbey to Boucher base
Furniture retailer Harvey Norman is on the move.
The company is relocating from its Newtownabbey site to the former Fultons' store at Balmoral Plaza off Boucher Road in south Belfast.
The company will make the 61,000ft two-level outlet its flagship base in Northern Ireland. As well as a refit, the new showroom will employ at least 15 new staff.
And after the refit, there will be three concession stores for flooring, soft furnishings and homewares as well as a 140-seater premium restaurant.
Chief executive Blaine Callard said the company wanted to tap into the DNA of the building left behind by Fultons, but with a Harvey Norman twist.
He said: "This is without doubt the iconic furniture location in Belfast, not only because it's on Boucher Road but because of the history of the building when it was Fultons.
"While our intention is to create a magnificent flagship Harvey Norman homestore, we'll certainly be looking at ways to respect the DNA and heritage of the Fultons brand.
"It's an exciting challenge for our store designers, something new from the bones of something old."
Mr Callard added: "Fultons was majestic and extravagant - a grand piano playing in the foyer - quite out of reach for most people.
"That won't be our positioning here, the new store will still be luxurious, stylish, and ambitious in scale but much more accessible in terms of prices and designs."
The company has signed a 15-year lease with a seven-year break and is making a substantial investment in the building. Work began yesterday and its hoped the new store will open in October in time for the traditionally busy pre-Christmas rush.
"This is best foot forward for Harvey Norman in Belfast and in line with our international brand," said Mr Callard.
"This move makes sense for our brand in Belfast, our location at Valley Retail Park in Newtownabbey simply wasn't working for us, and both the size and the location of the unit didn't allow us to really showcase the brand in terms of our furniture and interiors offering."
Colin Mathewson of letting agents CBRE said: "We are delighted to have secured Harvey Norman as a tenant at Balmoral Plaza on behalf of the landlord.
"Balmoral Plaza is a dominant retail park situated in a prime location on the Boucher Road, Belfast, which is Northern Ireland's premier furniture destination.
"Harvey Norman will provide a fantastic compliment to the existing tenant line-up which includes M&S Simply Food, Lakeland, Chain Reaction, HomeBargains, DW Sports, Pets at Home and Costa Coffee. Their unit extends to over 60,000 sq ft on two levels and will represent one of the largest furniture stores in Northern Ireland.
"From the landlord's point of view the deal further reflects the quality of Balmoral Plaza and their ability to secure key occupiers for this scheme and their portfolio generally.
"In many ways this bold move represents a coming out for Harvey Norman as they aim to establish the Harvey Norman Boucher Road store as the number one retail destination for furniture and bedding in Northern Ireland."
Harvey Norman designers said the new store would bare the hallmarks of the Australian-based retailer's style with lots of new ideas.
Ryan Pheloung, general manager for furniture in Harvey Norman, will be taking on the role of creative director on the Boucher Road refit project.
He said: "This store will take retail design to the next level for Harvey Norman.
"Our local team will be designing every aspect of the shop from the ground up, with a very clear vision in mind: to bring the same vibrancy that customers love from our latest furniture collections but in a way that is new and exciting to Harvey Norman.
"The aim is to create something special - an inspirational space - where customers can browse and explore a vast showroom of interiors and design."
Mr Pheloung said: "The store design is going to be a trend setting, bright airy space, I'd describe our inspiration as "modern rustic".
"Customers can expect to find on-trend cool finds from around the world - all great quality at amazing value."
To kick things off, Harvey Norman, Newtownabbey, will hold a massive furniture and bedding clearance sale. Once all the stock in the Newtownabbey store is sold off, it will be closed.
In Northern Ireland, Harvey Norman currently employees 41 staff across two stores at Newtownabbey and at Holywood Exchange. The new staff will be employed in roles including sales, cashier and administration.
Family-run Fultons became a household name after it started out in Lurgan over 50 years ago and the flagship Boucher Plaza showroom was opened in 2006.
It was well-known for its restaurant and resident pianist before its closure in 2013.