Belfast Telegraph

30 jobs are lost as three traders quit Victoria Square

By Margaret Canning

Three traders in Belfast's Victoria Square Shopping Centre have closed this month, it has emerged.

Shoe shop Geox, restaurant Gourmet Burger Kitchen and frozen yoghurt cafe Yogen Fruz have all pulled down their shutters with the loss of at least 30 jobs.

The traders could not be reached for comment but it's understood Italian business Geox was exercising a five-year break clause in its lease.

UK chain Gourmet Burger Kitchen had been operating from the square for nearly five years while US firm Yogen Fruz opened two years ago.

But centre manager Hugh Black said the outlook for the shopping centre was positive despite the trio of closures.

"Victoria Square continues to attract interest and investment from national and international brands due to the ongoing success of our diverse retail and leisure offering.

"Up until Gourmet Burger Kitchen took the regrettable decision to close its restaurant in Victoria Square this week, our restaurant units were fully let - their situation is not reflective of the experience of our other restaurant tenants."

He said the centre had welcomed new retailers in the last three months, including Phase Eight and Hugo Boss, while Pan Asian restaurant chain Cosmo and independent cafe Treat Boutique had also opened.

Italian restaurant chain Prezzo opens in March, while clothes shop Fat Face will open in this spring, he said. It's understood Fat Face will vacate its existing shop at 51-53 Fountain Street and the premises' lease will be sub-let.

Meanwhile, outdoor specialists Tiso closed their nearby Cornmarket store on December 16

Aodhan Connolly of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said Christmas had been a "make-or-break" period for retailers, and said protests and violence over the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall had made things tougher.

"We need for the protests to stop, for the red tape which prevents investment in Northern Ireland to be removed, as well as over regulation," he said.


Number of new outlets that opened in centre in the last three months