Supermarket set to anchor town's new retail centre
Supermarket giant is expected to emerge as the anchor tenant of a controversial new retail and business park in Newry.
The Hill Partnership said a "major multi-national supermarket chain" will set up at the Carbane Way development, which also includes a business park with 70 units and 14 homes.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan last week announced he was giving the article 31 scheme the green light.
Planning applications are designated article 31 where they are regarded as so significant that they are decided by the Environment Minister.
With Sainsbury's and Tesco already operating in Newry, only Asda remains as a likely contender to anchor the development.
The closest Asda to Newry is in Portadown, around 20 miles away.
A spokeswoman would not confirm any deal for Carnbane but said: "Asda is interested in opening a store in Newry.
"We are currently reviewing our options to enable us to deliver Asda's great range of quality products at affordable prices to shoppers in the town."
Traders have responded with anger to the plans by the Hill Partnership, operated by Laurence and Eilish Breen, claiming it would "decimate" the city centre's trade.
Mr Armstrong said: "While there will be hundreds of retail-linked positions associated with the arrival of a major multi-national supermarket chain, many more non-retail jobs will be created in the 70 units making up the business park."
He said the Hill Partnership wanted to improve Newry. "We are committed to Newry and its environs – committed to seeing it grow and committed to helping it realise its full potential"
And he said the business had been "overwhelmed" by support for its plans.
Mr Armstrong added: "Around 358 construction jobs will be created and 400 jobs once complete. That's £7.1m in wages during the building phase and around £6.9m thereafter."
But Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade said: "This development will have disastrous consequences for the future of Newry city centre."