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100 new jobs on way to west Belfast in £3m retail investment

Chains set to open in former Dunnes unit at Park Centre

Park Centre
Park Centre
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Around 100 retail jobs are to be created in west Belfast in a £3 million project as two discount chains expand into the Park Centre on Donegall Road.

The shopping centre's owners Latt Ltd said the opening of Home Bargains and a larger B&M Stores was a "massive boost".

B&M is relocating to a unit three times the size of the premises it had been occupying, while Home Bargains is opening in the centre for the first time.

The growth of the two chains comes despite falling retail sales across the UK as a whole

The BRC (British Retail Consortium)-KPMG retail sales monitor said total sales fell by 0.5% year on year in March, compared with a 2.3% annual increase seen in March 2018.

The chains will open in separate spaces in a unit formerly occupied by Dunnes.

B&M already has a smaller unit within the centre but is moving to larger premises.

The discounters will occupy over 40,000 sq ft of space in total when they open in late summer.

A spokesman for Latt said there had been a £1m investment by each of the retailers, while £1m had been invested by the landlord.

Latt director Stephen McGeown said: "The Park Centre is located in a prime retail position in south-west Belfast, beside the Westlink and the M1 and close to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

"The addition of a Home Bargains superstore and a new B&M superstore is excellent news for the centre and for the local area, with both significant investment and an important jobs boost."

Colin Mathewson, senior director at commercial property agents CBRE, which worked with the centre to secure both tenants, said their arrival was "fantastic news".

Aodhan Connolly, the director of the NI Retail Consortium, also welcomed the opening of the chains, which he said appealed to a broad demographic.

"That fact means you could put them pretty much anywhere. And the reason that they are particularly successful in Northern Ireland is that shoppers here love a bargain," he said.

"In some parts of the UK that just means cheap but with Northern Ireland consumers that means something that is quality at a price less than what they expected."

And he said that it was significant that both were opening in a premises formerly occupied by Dunnes.

In recent years, the low-profile company has closed large numbers of food stores and instead invested heavily in the fashion and homewares offerings in its flagships.

Mr Connolly added: "I think a lot of the traditional retailers have had to reinvent themselves... and a good retailer reacts and adapts to the consumers' needs and isn't afraid to change."

Belfast Telegraph

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