Belfast Telegraph

Primark unveils plans for a major extension to its city centre store

By Chris Kilpatrick

Retail giant Primark has formally applied for planning permission for a major extension of its flagship Belfast store.

The high street superpower confirmed its plans for the Castle Street store to the Belfast Telegraph last September.

The application is to demolish a large building adjacent to its current premises and refurbishment of its Bank Buildings shop.

The extension will be built on the site of Commonwealth House.

If approved, the store will become one of the largest retail developments in the city centre since Victoria Square opened five years ago.

The budget chain continues to flourish despite the recession and tough trading conditions facing other retailers.

Retailers in nearby shops said they were aware of growing speculation last summer. In September a spokesman for the firm said: "We can confirm Primark is planning to expand its current store at Castle Street in Belfast.

"As yet we have no time frame for the development."

No other details are being made public at present and it is not known whether the expansion will create more jobs at the store.

A shop owner on Castle Street said the rumour mill had been in overdrive for almost a year.

"A lot of people are talking about it," she said.

"People coming in and out of the shop have been asking what we know about it, but to be honest we just know what we have been told, which is that Primark is taking on more property and will be expanding."

With the credit crunch continuing to bite hard, it is one of the few businesses which is staving off the threats posed by the recession.

When news of the redevelopment emerged, Donald McFetridge, retail expert from the University of Ulster, said it was no surprise.

"Their store at Castle Street is one of the best performing outlets in their empire and customers flock to it in their droves," he said.

"One of the principal reasons why Primark are succeeding on the high street (and out of town), while others flounder and fail, is that they offer reasonably priced products in contemporary designs, colours and fashions at the value end of the market.

"They are quick to turn around catwalk fashion items in less than six weeks from design to shop floor, meaning that fashionistas with an eye on their purses or wallets are able to ape couture fashion at a mere fraction of the price."

Belfast Telegraph