Belfast Telegraph

The Outlet adding 100 new jobs with major expansion

By John Mulgrew

The Outlet shopping centre is undergoing a £4m revamp which will create around 100 new permanent jobs.

The retail park in Banbridge, Co Down was purchased by Lotus Group, along with Antrim's Junction One, for around £40m last year.

Now, it's spending cash on upgrading the layout and facade of the building, installing a "modern covering of the Mall, made from a transparent plastic membrane and a first for a retail park in Northern Ireland".

It's also currently in talks with a number of international outlet brands. That's following a trip to MAPIC, the international retail property trade show in Cannes.

But Lotus Group would not reveal the names of any new stores it is currently in talks with.

Plans for the site will also include the re-cladding of the existing shops, and a new children's play area.

Those behind the scheme say it will "see dramatic changes to the look and feel of The Outlet as it currently sits". The centre says it will add 100 permanent jobs, alongside 20 during construction.

It has added a number of new businesses to the retail park in the last few months, including a large nine-screen Omniplex cinema, McDonald's, along with a Smyth & Gibson and Bench clothing store.

Alastair Coulson, asset and property management director of The Lotus Group, said: "When we bought The Outlet, we saw the opportunity to reinvigorate the site through capital investment with the installation of a covering for the walkways, a new children's play area, as well as new cladding on all retail units.

"Customer surveys undertaken by the centre manager team and comments from retailers have highlighted the need for a covered walkway. The new covering will allow for a sheltered walkway to enhance the shopping experience at The Outlet.

"We are confident that these improvements will not only give us a competitive edge, but will encourage new high-profile tenants to The Outlet and ultimately more choice for shoppers."

He said the company had seen sales rising by 27%, and footfall up by a similar level, since it took over the centre around nine months ago.

"This has been attained by opening new stores, a fully integrated marketing package including television advertising and working closely with the retailers on their stock packages," he said.

It comes after Lotus revealed a major £30m expansion of the ailing Junction One shopping centre in Antrim, claiming it could create hundreds of new jobs.

Speaking about The Outlet expansion, Mr Coulson said it is "a fantastic opportunity for the Banbridge area, bringing new and permanent jobs for local people, as well as indirect benefits to the local supply chain".

"We are hopeful that additional investment will follow after this re-development," he said.

Belfast Telegraph