Belfast Telegraph

Marks & Spencer moving from Newry's Buttercrane to The Quays

By Margaret Canning

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has announced it is relocating from Newry's Buttercrane Shopping Centre to rival The Quays in the city.

M&S said it would have access to a bigger floor space in a 30,000sq ft store and more parking spaces when it moves later this year.

It will be located in a new section of The Quays - part of property firm Parker Green International - which is now under construction in a £20m project.

But the move is a setback for the Buttercrane, where M&S has been an anchor tenant for nearly 20 years.

M&S said all 110 staff employed in the Buttercrane store would move across to The Quays - and that an undisclosed number of new posts could also be created.

The store will include a food hall plus homeware and clothing sections.

Last year M&S chief executive Steve Rowe announced it would be closing up to 30 stores around the UK, though a spokeswoman yesterday said there was no further information on what Northern Ireland outlets would be affected.

Siobhan Ruck, manager of the M&S store in Newry, said: "We're always thinking about how we can deliver great service for our customers.

"In Newry this means relocating to The Quays, which will provide our customers with more convenient, accessible car parking and extended opening hours."

Parker Green managing director Dr Gerard O'Hare said: "We are delighted to welcome Marks & Spencer to The Quays shopping complex, which is already home to some of the UK and Ireland's most prestigious retail brands.

"This latest £20m investment will create many new jobs both during construction and when operational, provide our loyal customers with the highest quality of choice and reinforce that both The Quays and Newry city centre remains as the premier location for retail."

A surge in cross-border trade from the Republic in autumn last year is not thought to have played a major role in the decision to move to bigger premises.

Newry's shops - and other retailers close to the border in Northern Ireland - enjoyed a rush of visitors from the Republic when the pound fell in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

But John Gildea, owner of bureau de change The Bureau at Buttercrane, said numbers had since fallen.

He added: "Yes, we had a lot of people coming when the pound fell. But when President Trump was elected in November we saw the pound recover a little, so that's meant we haven't been getting so many visitors from the south."  

Economist Andrew Webb said a fall in shoppers from home and further afield was to be expected in January and February, but said shoppers from the Republic were evident around Belfast retail parks during half-term.

"Sterling is still relatively weak and there is a definite increase in southern registration plates," he said.

Belfast Telegraph