Argos chain sees closures in Northern Ireland to make way for concessions
Several Argos stores in Northern Ireland are to close to be replaced with concessions inside Sainsbury's supermarkets, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
There are currently more than 700 people employed across 26 shops here and the company said that it was holding a consultation on which will be closed.
Argos is planning new 'digital' stores which will open as concessions employing 15 to 20 people inside Sainsbury's outlets, after the supermarket giant acquired the business last year.
The new generation of 'digital' stores will include an eBay collection area. Customers can use tablets to browse and order from the shop's range.
The first of the new stores is set to open in Forestside shopping centre in April and will bring 15 new jobs.
Another two are planned for Carrickfergus and Ballymena. However, the company hinted there are likely to be more, saying it was also looking at other locations.
The move comes after Sainsbury's acquired Home Retail Group - which owns Argos and Habitat - in September as part of a £1.4bn deal.
Some of the stores will be concessions inside Sainsbury's while others - like Forestside - will be standalone. Each new store is expected to create between 15 and 20 jobs.
Argos regional manager Stephen Kelly said: "The new shop is great news for customers, who are looking for easier, more convenient ways to shop. We're looking forward to offering them an increased range of products at great value."
The changes come as Sainsbury's at Forestside is revamped, with space added for clothing and the off-licence moving inside the main supermarket.
Commercial property agent Eamonn Murphy said it was part of a wider trend.
"People want things to be increasingly more convenient - they want to spend less time walking around shopping centres and more time on leisure activities so becoming a hub with more than one business in the one place makes sense," Mr Murphy added.