Belfast Telegraph

Scandinavian retailer Tiger likened to Ikea with furniture planning to open flagship store in Belfast

Exclusive: Variety store sells everything from chic kitchen and homeware to candles, arts and crafts

By John Mulgrew

Danish retailer Tiger - likened to 'Ikea without the furniture' - is creating seven new jobs as it opens its first flagship store in Northern Ireland.

The variety store sells everything from chic Scandinavian-designed kitchen and homeware to candles, arts and crafts and curio items.

It will be run by Gillian Maxwell and Niall Stringer, who already operate 17 Tiger stores in the Republic.

But now the pair are bringing their wares to Belfast, and are in the process of finalising a deal on their first flagship store in the heart of the city centre.

And Ms Maxwell says there are plans to grow the business further - opening additional stores in the city and elsewhere in Northern Ireland.

Tiger first tested the water with a pop-up shop in Newry, but felt Belfast was where it should launch its first major flagship business.

"It's a partnership with the parent company in Denmark. We first opened in 2011 and will have 18 stores by the end of September," said Ms Maxwell.

"The model came around out of selling everything at a round price, and focusing on design - from a needle to an anchor, there's everything from arts, candles and food. We also make major stock changes twice a month."

The pair discovered the business in England after popping in for an umbrella and leaving with a handful of other products.

"Tiger focuses on finding new and innovative products," Ms Maxwell said. "For example, we have a teapot which looks like a bird's beak. Two young designers took it to Tiger. It's just €7 and has won design competitions. It's about the democratisation of design."

And the move here comes amid demand to set up shop in Belfast.

"The feedback was people saying, come to Belfast," Ms Maxwell said. "We really believe there is an opportunity for it. My sense is people are willing to travel and are open to new things.

"The themes and designs are all very attractive. There isn't a shop like it anywhere on the high street in Belfast.

"There are some really nice products and there is a real brightness and colour to the store."

Tiger now boasts more than 50 stores in the UK and has almost 500 across the globe.

It follows in the footsteps of another Scandinavian retail giant, Ikea, which opened its Belfast store - the first of its kind in Ireland - back in 2007.

And there are ambitious plans to grow the brand further in Northern Ireland, with a focus on "rapid expansion".

"If Belfast does well then there is an opportunity. We would focus on Belfast as well as elsewhere in Northern Ireland," Ms Maxwell said.

"My sense is Belfast could take another couple of stores.

"There are other places like Bangor as well as other great hubs for retail right across Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph