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New M&S shop in Northern Ireland creating 80 jobs

By John Mulgrew

A new Marks and Spencer store in Northern Ireland will create 80 new jobs and a further 100 during its construction.

Marlborough Retail Park in Craigavon, Co Armagh, will become the supermarket chain's 21st store. It comes as the company celebrates 50 years here.

The multi-national retailer is the first new tenant at the site, which was formerly home to B&Q. Marks and Spencer will take around 16,000 sq ft for a new foodhall, as part of the overall 80,000 sq ft development.

And according to property agents CBRE, there will be a further 100 jobs delivered throughout the construction.

CBRE is retained along with DTZ McCombe Pierce, on behalf of a private client on the leasing of the scheme.

Alana Coyle, director at CBRE, said: "It is fantastic to secure M&S as the first new letting at Marlborough Retail Park.

"We are confident that the retailer will act as a major anchor tenant and catalyst for further development at the retail park in Craigavon. Conversations with other high calibre occupiers are at an advanced stage and we expect to make further announcements in the near future.

"It is encouraging to see the redevelopment of this vacant B&Q site and the continued improvement to the offering in Craigavon, providing continually improving quality and choice for customers."

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last week, Marks and Spencer boss Steve Rowe said: "We're adding about 200 jobs in Northern Ireland, which is a continuation of our success story here.

"Some of our largest market shares are here in Northern Ireland - including our second-largest food market share."

M&S in Northern Ireland also has a market share of around 8%, double that in the UK as a whole and second only to Glasgow at 9%.

And over the 50 years since it opened in Belfast, Mr Rowe said "the biggest change is the scale of our food business".

When it opened its first store in Donegall Place in the city in 1967, M&S was predominantly a clothing retailer and its food offering was relatively small.

The new Craigavon store is helping to fill the huge space left behind when B&Q shut more than half its store network here.

In 2015, the DIY chain confirmed it was shutting more than half its Northern Ireland network, resulting in the loss of up to 300 jobs.

Earlier this summer, a vacant B&Q store in south Belfast was given a new lease of life as a leisure and creative hub. The team behind the T13 project at the Titanic Quarter - a former shipbuilding warehouse - are replicating their scheme at the large empty premises on Boucher Road. The former B&Q store had been sitting vacant for more than a year.

Speaking about the new Craigavon store, Gareth Wilson, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, said: "This is a good news story for our borough and it is so encouraging to see inward investment in the area. There was concern when B&Q withdrew from the site at Craigavon, and some months later to see a major retailer such as Marks & Spencer invest in our borough is a hugely positive indication that we are very much open for business."

Belfast Telegraph

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