An Irish athleisure retailer backed by pop star Niall Horan is opening in Belfast, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Gym+Coffee will launch its first Northern Ireland store in Victoria Square Shopping Centre.
Co-founder, Diarmuid McSweeney, confirmed today that an announcement will be made next week on its first opening here.
The chain, which was founded in 2017 by Mr McSweeney, Karl Swaine and its current chief executive, Niall Horgan, is already listed as a tenant on the Victoria Square website.
At present, it has nine stores across the Republic and England.
Its products, like sweatshirts, hoodies and long-sleeved tops, typically have the Gym+Coffee logo at the top of the left sleeve, and a ‘+’ sign along the bottom at the back.
It also sells shorts, jogging bottoms and leggings.
Ex-One Direction member Niall Horan is an investor and advisor to Gym+Coffee. Two years ago, ex-Ireland rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll joined as its head of community, and has also invested in the business.
Gym+Coffee describes itself as “Ireland’s leading lifestyle + athleisure brand and community”.
According to a mission statement, “we believe in fun things to do, an awesome crew to do things with and quality gear to do things in”.
Its website adds: “Our philosophy is to make life richer and we live + breathe it everyday. We are a like-minded bunch of active, inclusive, optimistic and adventurous folk, focused on socialising around exercise and centred on community.”
In an interview last week, chief executive and co-founder, Mr Horgan, told the Sunday Independent that the company could list on the stock market in the future.
He said it would hope to emulate the growth of UK leisurewear business, Gymshark.
“We haven’t defined anything on this but we look at other successful businesses in our space, the likes of Gymshark, who have done an incredible job over the last eight years,” he said.
“They are now valued at a billion dollars and did a significant fundraise last year. For our first couple of years of business versus theirs, we’re actually on a faster growth trajectory.
“So that gives us a lot of confidence that if we keep doing what we were doing, that the path already has been set.”
He added: “We’ve expanded from just having one website to now having four and nine physical retail stores.
“We’ve grown the team from three co-founders to now over 100 team members across our head office and retail stores.
“We’ve been growing internationally from just one market, Ireland, to the UK, US and Australia as well.”
The arrival of Gym+Coffee to Belfast city centre is a big boost for retail.
The city centre and Victoria Square have lost a number of key retailers in the last few years, including LK Bennett, Cruise, Levi’s and Pepe.
The centre’s flagship Topshop-Topman unit at the entrance to the centre is empty following the administration of the Arcadia Group this year.
However, some of Victoria Square’s empty units have been filled by other operators, including New Look, which is now in the old Cruise unit.
Many of the brands formerly sold in Cruise are now for sale in Flannels, the new high-end offer at Frasers, formerly House of Fraser.
Victoria Square Shopping Centre did not return a request for comment.