Argento boss Pete Boyle plans to launch €5m centre in Republic
Retail and leisure park boss Pete Boyle is planning a multi-million euro expansion of his water sports business into the Republic of Ireland, Business Telegraph can reveal.
Mr Boyle, who also owns the 29-store Argento chain of jewellers, opened up activity centre Let's Go Hydro in Knockbracken near Carryduff last year.
Now he said he's looking for locations around Dublin for another potential water park, in an investment of up to €5m.
He said he had hoped to open a site at a reservoir at Stillorgan in Co Dublin but could not secure the agreement of Irish Water.
Mr Boyle said any prospective site could be no further than 30 minutes from a major city in order to draw maximum visitors.
"We're looking into an aqua park in Dublin. It's logical to put them as close to cities as possible," he said.
"We have considered multiple sites and have been talking to Waterways Ireland. We did find a reservoir in Stillorgan but Irish Water won't let us on to that."
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He said his present Let's Go Hydro water park was working out well and was developing more land-based activities for the site. Activities are currently run from April to October though it's now offering year-round accommodation. Knockbracken Reservoir had been out of use since 2004, before its sale in 2016. It's understood the reservoir at Stillorgan is still in use as a treated water reservoir.
A spokesman for Irish Water said: "As an active water supply site with high pressure pipes and valves, the use of the site for active open space in the form of publicly accessible parkland or playing pitches is not feasible."
Mr Boyle has been best known as a retail business owner, through his chain of Argento jewellers, which he founded after operating a market stall.
He told Business Telegraph he did not expect to be investing in the opening of more Argento shops in the near future. "We have a successful jewellery business but it's very hard to see retail expand any time soon, unless there is massive change in business rates."
He said the company is gearing up for the Christmas season, including with the recruitment of Christmas staff. Christmas for Argento and other retailers in Belfast city centre was marred last year by the closure of parts of the city centre thanks to a cordon around Primark's Bank Buildings, which was badly damaged in a fire.
"Every year has different challenges but last year was quite unique. We're glad not to have that again this year," said Mr Boyle.
Argento's sister company Angus Properties has also branched out into property investment. Earlier this year it bought Laganview House on the corner of Ann Street and Oxford Street in Belfast. It has now let out three storeys of the building to a software company. Bridal shop WED2B is housed on the ground floor.
The diversification came after parent company Denvir Holdings netted £7m from the sale of 26 Pandora stores in Scotland and England. The shops were sold back to Danish company Pandora.
Denvir Holdings reported a surge in pre-tax profits by 86% from £7.7m to £14.3m in its latest accounts.