Belfast Telegraph

Opening of store fails to quell city trade fears

By Amanda Poole

Fashion retailer SuperGroup is opening a new Superdry store in Belfast's Victoria Square complex next month.

The 8,000sq ft store will open on April 27, to complement the concession already based in the House of Fraser.

There are currently 64 staff employed across Ireland, including 17 at the Cult store in Royal Avenue, Belfast.

No new jobs will be created at the new Superdry store, as a number of staff from Cult will be redeployed.

Currently SuperGroup, which was founded in 1985, employs over 2,000 people across the UK and Ireland.

The urban clothing brand has sold in over 300 countries since it was inspired by a trip to Tokyo in 2003. It fuses design influences from Japanese graphics and vintage Americana, with the values of British tailoring.

A spokesman for SuperGroup told the Belfast Telegraph the company is looking forward to bringing new products to the city. "We are really excited about the Belfast store," he said.

"Belfast is a great city and a lot of thought and creativity has gone into the new Superdry store layout.

"Hopefully it will go down will with Belfast's shoppers."

Meanwhile, Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce has made a formal request for an urgent meeting with Stormont ministers to address the current decline of Donegall Place and Royal Avenue.

Belfast traders are concerned that the once thriving city centre retail area is now littered with closed shutters and 'To Let' signs.

Joe Jordan, president of the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce (BCTC), said the economic lifeblood of Belfast is at stake and traders have a "bleak future" if they don't get urgent help.

Traders are hoping to meet with Arlene Foster, Alex Attwood, Sammy Wilson and Nelson McCausland to discuss the five-point plan drawn up by BCTC to address areas of concern.

The plan includes: better planning policy, examining what BCTC calls the "disproportionately high rates burden" and fiscal policies to help existing businessmen and women.

The plan also asks for just one Stormont minister to be accountable for a Belfast city centre strategy and for more work to attract inward investment.

Mr Jordan said vacant units were increasing daily and there was a need for an urgent focus on regenerating Belfast's iconic retail district.

He added: "If the centre of Belfast is allowed to decline even further, the effect will be felt all over Northern Ireland."