Grocery giant Tesco is opening a new store in Belfast city centre on the site of a former Poundworld that has been vacant for almost three years, Business Telegraph can reveal.
The 4,500 sq ft shop at 11-13 Donegall Place has been empty since the administration of Poundworld in July 2018.
Now Tesco has confirmed that it will be operating one of its smaller-format Express stores on the site.
It marks a new investment by the grocer in Belfast despite its decision last year to put its landmark Metro store on Royal Avenue on the market. It's available for £4.25m through agents CBRE.
The former Poundworld had been up for rent through commercial property agents McKibbin and Osborne King.
McKibbin partner Ryan McKenna said the letting to Tesco was "a good news story for Donegall Place and the surrounding occupiers".
And while vacating its Metro store, Tesco will keep its Tesco Express at the other end of Royal Avenue. "It's evidence that the city centre is becoming more of a convenience market for Tesco," he added.
The company, which has around 50 stores here, said: "We're excited for a new city centre Tesco Express store in Donegall Place and we look forward to serving the local community."
Mr McKenna said some “rationalisation” was taking place elsewhere in the city centre, particularly where retailers were facing lease renewals giving them an opportunity to vacate or relocate if they wished.
Aodhan Connolly, director of the NI Retail Consortium, welcomed the new opening. “I think we have to take it as a good sign that major retailers are still willing to invest in Belfast and in Northern Ireland.
“I think it shows that they see a certain amount of light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to lockdowns and getting back to normal. This is a major show of confidence.”
But he said the retail sector would need further support from the Executive in its Budget, adding: “We also need a retail strategy for Northern Ireland to reflect the very different flavour of retail around NI.”