Jobs boost at revamped Primark
A new £6m extension to an existing Primark store at a shopping centre in Co Down has been welcomed.
Up to 100 full and part-time staff will be employed at the refurbished 50,000 sq foot outlet at the Buttercrane Centre in Newry.
Centre manager Peter Murray said that the investment was good news for the Northern Ireland economy.
"It is a considerable and very welcome investment in these straightened times," he said.
"This is a huge vote of confidence by Primark, one of Europe's leading retailers, in the strength of Buttercrane's trading performance and I believe endorsement of this magnitude is something to shout about.
"The jobs boost at Buttercrane is wonderful for the centre but it is also very encouraging for the community and the wider local economy.
"The newly opened extension is, of course, brilliant news for our Buttercrane shoppers who now have a larger, more modern Primark store to explore and enjoy in time for Christmas and beyond.
"As one of our key anchor stores, Primark now offers an even wider range of fashion and home wares to enhance our retail offering at the Buttercrane Shopping Centre. It is also expected that the newly improved Primark store will help to entice more southern shoppers from across the border."
Criona Collins from BTW Shiells, leasing director for the Buttercrane Centre, said that the centre has proved that it can still attract key retailer investment despite the tough financial climate.
"It is particularly significant that Primark, voted Retailer of the Year 2010, chose to re-invest at Buttercrane, as the company's growth strategy is currently focused on the rest of Europe," she said.
"Buttercrane has traded reasonably strongly throughout 2010 despite the current economic climate.
"At a time when almost all development has been mothballed owing to the recession, the landlord's decision to invest is paramount to the continued success of Buttercrane Shopping Centre and the remaining 60-plus retailers should undoubtedly reap the rewards."
Primark, known as Penneys in the Republic, was founded by Irishman Anthony Ryan and is now part of Associated British Foods. Primark now has 38 stores in the Republic of Ireland and 150 across the UK.
Last month the firm said hopes to retain its spot in the budget fashion sector by sacrificing some profit to avoid passing on higher cotton prices to shoppers.
Devastating floods in Pakistan - one of the world's largest producers - and fears over this year's crop in China have sent cotton prices surging to a 15-year high.