Belfast Telegraph

Flagship store to create 20 jobs

By Clare Weir

Twenty jobs are being created with the opening of a new clothing store in Belfast city centre.

High Street chain Internacionale is to open a brand new flagship store in Donegall Place next month.

The 6,500 sq ft, two-level store has been designed specifically for the brand by Harris Cox and design agency Raylians and will include a footwear department, cash desks and fitting room layouts and furniture.

There are already eight stores in Northern Ireland including three in the greater Belfast area.

Internacionale retail operations director Caraline Money said that the firm's strategy for this year is to enter key markets to raise the profile of the brand and increase market share within the fashion retail sector.

"Donegall Place in Belfast is one of the UK's key shopping destinations, so when this store became available we jumped at the opportunity, as it is extremely important for us to have a strong brand presence in this market," she said.

The opening is good news for Belfast, coming just weeks after commercial property firm Lisney revealed that a quarter of shops in Belfast and one in five across Northern Ireland are vacant.

But experts in the retail and property sectors say that the face of the city centre is changing.

Royal Avenue and Donegall Square, previously seen as Belfast's premier shopping destinations, are now home to cut-price chains while more high-end stores are moving to other areas.

Dr Karise Hutchinson from the University of Ulster's business school said that more exclusive brands are navigating towards Victoria Square.

"Modern shopping habits dictate that people want to shop, eat and park in the same area," she said.

The new store will open at 11am on November 15, at a launch hosted by TV presenter Mark Heyes.