The BHS store in Belfast has been sold with its new owner pledging ambitious plans for the iconic store.
The store in Belfast's Castle Place - which has been a mainstay in the city for five decades - closed in August 2016 after a search for a buyer for the chain proved fruitless when it entered administration five months earlier.
The Belfast-based Alterity Investments confirmed it had purchased the 70,000 sq ft store on Thursday and was confident it would see a bounce back in retail.
Alterity said it had "exciting plans" to refurbish and reconfigure the building, with potential to subdivide the ground floor into a number of retail units and for the upper floors to be used for a variety of purposes.
As part of its proposed redevelopment of the building, Alterity also intends to work closely with Belfast City Council to rejuvenate Castle Arcade, the small passageway between Castle Lane and High Street, as part of its ongoing Entries Project.
Subject to planning it also hopes to visually improve the exterior of the building to make it more attractive.
Terms of the deal between Alterity and previous owners M&G Real Estate were not disclosed.
Alterity Investments has predominately invested in properties in England and Scotland.
It was formed in 1975 and is a family-owned property and investment company. Operating throughout the UK, it has assets in excess of £100m spread across various sectors and owns several other buildings in central Belfast, including other retail sites on Castle Lane.
Its properties are situated in prime locations across the UK, with its client portfolio including companies such as Joules, Waterstones, Lloyds Bank, Starbucks, Costa, Greggs and Cotswold.
Richard Faloon, commercial director of Alterity Investments, said the firm was delighted to be committing to a major investment in Belfast.
“We are confident about the retail sector’s ability to bounce back from the difficulties of the past year and this strategic acquisition adds to the existing holdings the company already has in the Castle Lane and Cornmarket area," he said.
Frazer Kidd has been retained as commercial agent for the property, which comprises three upper floors and a ground floor that opens onto Castle Lane, Castle Arcade and Cornmarket.
Brian Kidd added: “Alterity is an investor with a proven track record in urban regeneration and it is a vote of confidence in their home town that they have committed to bringing this landmark building back into use. The property is a blank canvas that can be redeveloped in a flexible way to meet the needs of modern retailers as they adapt to how customers are now using city centres.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for any retailer who is new to the Northern Ireland market or one who is already in it who wants unique premises that are not only in a prime location but will also form a gateway between Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and the city centre core.”