Belfast Telegraph

Outlet expects more growth after cut-price sale in 2016

By John Mulgrew

The Outlet says it is set for double-digit growth on its 10th anniversary - just one year after the business was sold off for a fraction of its original cost. The retail park in Banbridge, Co Down, was purchased along with Antrim's Junction One by Lotus Group and Tristan Capital for around £40m last year.

It opened its doors in April 2007 as part of a £70m investment.

It employs around 500 full-time and part-time staff working at brands such as Gap, Nike and LK Bennett. It attracts 1.6 million visitors a year.

Centre manager Chris Nelmes said there had been challenging times over the last decade.

"In terms of turnover, we have had a successful year last year," he added.

He said the weak euro had also helped attract customers from the Republic.

"Not only in the brands we have, but the euro, since Brexit, and we have had a significant upturn.

"With Lotus Group and Tristan taking over last year, there has been a significant focus and investment in The Outlet and that has had a positive impact.

"When we started off in 2007, there were around 400 staff on board then, and we have maintained the number and slightly increased that."

He said a new McDonald's had added 100 jobs, while the Omniplex cinema created around 50.

"It (The Outlet) opened in 2007, when retail was good, at the peak, then there was a property and retail bubble that burst.

"There have been challenging times, as all retail has gone through.

"In terms of riding out the storm, we have had retailers (still here) since we opened... even though there has been a downturn in trade, businesses have ridden out the storm."

As for the future, Mr Nelmes said: "We have had a good period in the last 12 months.

"In the next year, with the investment, we expect a larger growth on last year."

Asked about the future of its Jaeger store, following the fashion brand's administration, he said "it trades exceptionally well at the centre".

"The Outlet is going to be a premium shopping centre with exciting food, beverage and leisure, with game-changing brands forecast to join us," he added.

He says a number of top-end brands are due to be added in the coming months. The Outlet was previously owned by West Register - a firm set up by Ulster Bank's parent company RBS in order to manage distressed property assets.

Belfast Telegraph