Belfast Telegraph

Next doubles workforce at Abbey Centre flagship shop

By Rachel Martin

Retail giant Next has created 30 new jobs at its new flagship store in Newtownabbey - part of a multi-million pound redevelopment at the Abbey Centre.

Letting agents Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) have also let out the former BHS store at the centre, following the administration of the chain earlier this year.

The new tenant will be revealed early next year, LSH said.

Abbey Centre's 43,000 sq ft two-storey Next store will double the number of people employed at the branch, bringing the total to 60.

Around 10 new retailers have opened in the Abbey Centre over the past 18 months, and work is also being carried out to extend the existing Dunnes Stores unit by 13,000 sq ft.

Retailers such as Holland & Barrett, Vogue and Argento have additionally increased the size of their units within the centre, LSH said.

The Abbey Centre is owned by London-based firm NewRiver REIT, which also owns Cookstown Retail Park in Co Tyrone.

According to LSH, NewRiver REIT has created 55,000 sq ft of retail space at Abbey Centre since buying it from Abbey Centre Ltd two years ago.

LSH and joint letting agents McMullen Wilson also announced that restaurant chain Nando's would open a branch at the centre in spring.

Criona Collins, head of retail at LSH, said: "Next's flagship store is one of the largest in Northern Ireland and the Dunnes Stores extension is currently under construction, with completion planned for next summer.

"Both of these multimillion-pound investments signal the confidence that Next and Dunnes Stores have in the centre and highlights New River's ongoing commitment to enhancing the overall retail environment."

Last month Next announced a deal with Northern Ireland coffee company Ground Espresso to include outlets in 50 of its stores across the UK.

The chain's Abbey Centre branch will employ 18 staff.

Ground Espresso currently runs 19 stores and employs around 270 people full-time.

Belfast Telegraph