Belfast Telegraph

Duchess Kate's favourite label Zara gears up for a return to Belfast with bigger store

By John Mulgrew

It's brand of fast fashion has already made it into the wardrobes of none other than the Duchess of Cambridge and pop diva Gwen Stefani.

But high-street clothing retailer Zara has left its Northern Ireland fans reeling for months, after shutting up shop in January.

However, those en vogue are about to have a brand new, improved and expanded city centre store - set to fling open its doors in time for the summer season.

Located in the thriving heart of Belfast's shopping district at Donegall Place, Zara will relaunch its trendy and often daring range in just weeks, it's understood.

The retailer is also adding a raft of new jobs so those with a taste for finer fashion fripperies can once again get their fix at the Spanish-owned chain.

Zara's veritable success among celebrities and the public has turned it into one of the world's largest fashion brands.

One of its long-standing fans has been Kate Middleton, who even brought out her Zara blazer during the Commonwealth Games, alongside hubby Wills.

And the royal was also spotted sporting a snazzy blue-pleated dress to Prince Philip's 90th birthday bash, as well choosing skinny, blue, figure-hugging Zara jeans as she welcomed the Olympic flame to London in 2012.

The new revamped Belfast store will be 500 square metres bigger, boasting its ever-popular womenswear section as well as clothing lines for men and children.

Judging by the chat on Twitter, it seems Zara fans throughout Northern Ireland have been left in a fashion limbo since the store closed earlier this year.

Dozens have taken to social media over the last few weeks, enquiring whether the high-street success story will reopen.

One wrote: "Hi @ZARA, getting desperate Belfast store closed since Jan for refurb please when are you opening again?" A spokesman for Zara told the Belfast Telegraph: "We do not have an exact date yet, but we are working as hard as we can to open the new improved store again soon.

"And the growth in staff numbers will be reflected in the growth in store size in order to continue to provide the best service to our Belfast customers."

He added they were "always on the lookout for expansion opportunities". Zara had only one store in Northern Ireland, but success at its relaunched Belfast outlet could perhaps pave the way for new additions in the future.

"We are very pleased with the reception from our Belfast customers ever since we opened in the city and we are responding to that reception with this new enlarged store."

Zara's parent company Inditex also owns a host of other global clothing brands, including the more youthful brand Pull and Bear - which has a store in Belfast's Victoria Square.

Massimo Dutti, which is a high-end and more sophisticated version of Zara, is another brand in the portfolio.

There is one store in Dublin, but there are no indications of one coming north of the border any time soon.

Zara has proved itself as one of Northern Ireland's leading high street clothing retailers alongside Topshop and Mango, while others have fallen on tough times.

One of those was Dutch-based Mexx, which the Belfast Telegraph revealed had gone the way of the dodo across Ireland this year.

Belfast Telegraph