Belfast Telegraph

Massive jobs boost as high-street chains open shopping centre outlets

By Margaret Canning

New retail and restaurant units in Belfast's two main shopping centres are set to create almost 70 new jobs.

UK noodle chain Wagamama is set to open in Belfast's Victoria Square Shopping Centre, with the creation of 50 jobs.

The popular restaurant chain - which is inspired by Japanese ramen bars - will join 18 cafes and restaurants already trading in the shopping centre when it opens in November.

Wagamama operates restaurants in Dublin, Blanchardstown and Cork, and recruitment has already begun for a head chef and senior management for the Belfast restaurant.

The arrival of Wagamama and its communal dining vibe to Northern Ireland is set to inject some novelty into the restaurant scene here.

A spokesman for Wagamama said: "Communal dining at long benches replaces the traditional table and chairs, generating an authentic Asian environment and welcoming busy workers during the week and families at the weekend."

The first Wagamama restaurant opened in Bloomsbury in London in 1992.

Meanwhile, a jobs boost is also on the way for Castlecourt shopping centre, as men's high street brand Blue Inc opens a store on Saturday, creating 16 jobs.

The chain's first Northern Ireland store opened in the Erneside Shopping Centre in Enniskillen in May of this year.

Further shops are also planned for Newry, Connswater in east Belfast, Londonderry, and Co Down, where a Newtownards store will open in just two weeks' time.

Blue Inc managing director Steven Cohen said: "We are delighted to be launching Blue Inc in Castlecourt Belfast.

"We are also pleased to be employing a large amount of local staff, and supporting the local community."

Blue Inc was founded in 1912 as a hat shop in Stratford, East London.

The opening follows clothing chain Republic, which opened in Castlecourt in February of this year, and Virgin Media, which opened last month.