Rents eased for struggling New Look in some Northern Ireland stores
Fashion retailer New Look has negotiated rent reductions with landlords of some of its 26 stores here as part of the chain's bid for survival, it has emerged.
The company last month announced creditors had agreed to a company voluntary arrangement involving the closure of some stores and heavy rent cuts in others.
Its Northern Ireland store estate was not affected by closures, but a report by commercial property agents CBRE into activity in the market in the first quarter of this year reveals that some of its local stores have seen "significant rent reductions".
There are New Look stores in many of key retail locations, including Belfast's Donegall Place and CastleCourt Shopping Centre, Bow Street Mall in Lisburn and Springhill Retail Park in Bangor.
New Look is one of a number of retailers to enter into a form of insolvency proceedings this year.
Electronics retailer Maplin has gone into administration, with its four stores in Northern Ireland due to close, along with Toys R Us, with its four stores also shutting.
But the market view by CBRE says that the commercial property sector here had seen an active first quarter despite "deepening economic uncertainty".
CBRE said continuing activity in the market - particularly in the hotels and offices sectors - was encouraging after a series of job loss announcements in the first few months of the year.
Hundreds of job losses emerged in the first three months of the year, including 240 o at Kilroot Power Station in Larne, 125 at Sensata Technologies in Antrim and around 145 at Williams Industrial Services in Newtownabbey.
But CBRE said: "It is very encouraging that there has been continued activity in the property sector in the province over the first three months, with strong occupier demand continuing to prevail for office and industrial accommodation in particular."
It added that the office market had seen 23 reported transactions.
The largest was the move by IT giant Allstate into its new premises.
And the hotel sector had seen its first opening of many this year, with the new Maldron Hotel in Brunswick Street beginning to operate.
The emphasis was on the revamp of existing office space - including the overhaul of River House on High Street.
In other major deals, outsourcing company HCL took up more space at Millennium House in Great Victoria Street, and tech company Secure Broadcast leased space in Callender Street.