High street giant Boots has signed up to a new 10-year lease at its flagship Belfast store as a major refurbishment project takes place close by.
The owners of 35-47 Donegall Place today confirmed that their main tenant would be staying put in the store.
Boots has operated in Belfast for 53 years, originally from premises at Cornmarket.
The business is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.
But building owners Bywater Properties, Ashmour and LRE Capital, which bought 35-47 Donegall Place in 2016, also confirmed they will be going ahead with a refurbishment. However, a spokeswoman confirmed Boots would be unaffected, and would continue to operate on the ground and first floor.
News that it will remain in situ comes after the announcement that around 200 Boots stores out of 2,400 around the UK are to close over the next 18 months.
The refurbishment will be carried out to office property which is accessed through an entrance to the left of Boots. It will include a vacant property next to Boots which was formerly occupied by Belfast Welcome Centre.
Theo Michell, principal at Bywater Properties, said: "Boots has been a long-standing tenant on Royal Avenue and we are delighted to have agreed a deal which will see them continue to hold their position for the next 10 years.
"This announcement signals the retailer's confidence in this area as the city's main shopping street."
But he said confirmation of Boots new lease gave it clarity to go ahead with a "very contemporary" refurbishment of the rest of the space. He added: "This is an exciting time for this part of Belfast, with significant regeneration planned. Our own projects, both on Donegall Place and Smithfield Market, are included in that.
"With increased city centre office space and prime retail positions in the pipeline, Boots recognises the value of the location it holds, with footfall set to increase as more people are encouraged to live, work and shop here." Ashley Stewart, director of Ashmour, said: "The Boots brand has been around for 170 years and it is still at the heart of the communities it serves.
"We are pleased to have secured such a recognisable name as our long-term retail tenant. We will adapt our original plans and proceed with a refurbishment of the top floors of the property, with the intention to attract a tenant to the commercial office space."
In a separate project, Bywater Properties and Ashmour have received planning permission for a 260,000 sq ft office and retail complex on the site of a car park at North Street/Smithfield Market. Its construction will start next year.