Belfast Telegraph

Cost of replacing Primark Belfast store ‘covered by insurance’

The front section of the building, which was being refurbished and extended at an estimated of cost of £30 million, was destroyed by fire in August.

The cost of replacing the Belfast Primark store which was destroyed by fire will be covered by insurance, the company said.

The interruption to the clothing firm’s business was also underwritten, an update from the retailer’s owner Associated British Foods (AB Foods) said.

The front section of the listed sandstone building, which was being refurbished and extended at an estimated of cost of £30 million, was destroyed by last month’s blaze.

Some 1,500 staff and shoppers were safely evacuated from the blaze but the embers smouldered for three days.

Firefighters were able to prevent the flames spreading to an extension at the rear of the building.

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Some 1,500 staff and shoppers were safely evacuated from the blaze (Brian Lawless/PA)

A statement from AB Foods said: “The Primark store in central Belfast was sadly destroyed by fire in August.

“All staff and customers were quickly and safely evacuated from the building.

“The replacement cost of the building and resulting business interruption is insured.”

Primark has said it will continue to pay its Belfast workers until December 31.

Around 300 people worked at the discount fashion chain.

Shopworkers trade union leader Paddy Lillis from Usdaw said a deal with staff provided some guarantees for the future.

The company is aiming to have them back in work from Monday 17 September and will be allocating individuals to other Primark stores, he added.

The firm is holding one-to-one discussions with staff to ensure issues like additional travel expenses are resolved.

Mr Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “Usdaw has been supporting our members and reps affected by the fire through this very difficult period and we have been working closely with the company to get the best possible deal for them.

“What we have agreed so far provides some future security for staff and we will continue to support, advise and represent our members through the transitional period and beyond.

“This has been a tough time for the staff and all concerned and it is going to take time to get things back to normal, if that is even possible.

“We welcome the company restating their commitment to Belfast and we will be working with them to deliver on that.”

A safety cordon around the building will remain in place for at least four months.

This sparked fury from other businesses who remain within the sealed-off zone and unable to trade, with some calling for the Bank Buildings to be demolished, instead of work continuing to preserve the historic facade.

Belfast City Council said a dedicated phone line has been set up (028 9027 0483) for those affected.

From this week, where this can be safely facilitated, the Council will begin assisting traders located within the cordon who wish to access their property.

A list of vacant properties that could be used for possible relocation has been drawn up, and a facility for temporary office accommodation at various locations has been offered to businesses.

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