Greens of Lisburn, one of Northern Ireland's oldest grocery stores, in line for £2m revamp
One of Northern Ireland's longest-surviving grocery stores could be set for a £2m investment to include a new restaurant under plans by its owner.
Greens Food Fare on Lisburn's Bow Street was first established in 1923, but there is evidence of a grocery shop on the site as far back as 1886.
Originally known as JT Green & Sons, it became well-known for its speciality food expertise, friendly service and family atmosphere.
In 1970 it was acquired by the Black family, who expanded the operation into a neighbouring property.
But the business faced a serious setback in March 1974 when it was significantly damaged by a bomb on Bow Street.
The business remained in the Black family until 2017, when it was acquired by Kilrea businessman Kenny Bradley, who heads the Kenny Group.
Mr Bradley's company includes a series of grocery stores across Northern Ireland.
He said the store needs major investment and described the plans drawn up by architectural firm Whittaker and Watt as "fantastic".
Last month Mr Bradley submitted a planning application to renovate, refurbish and remodel the 12,000 sq ft retail premises on the ground floor "to create a high quality and spacious convenience store".
Subject to planning approval, it will involve the partial demolition and redevelopment of the building's rear extensions facing onto Smithfield Square, creating new parking spaces.
The bid would also see the upper floors extended and turned into a new restaurant and wine bar for Lisburn.
Mr Bradley described the Smithfield Square end of his building as "tired, miserable and outdated".
"We're trying to modernise it and create two shop fronts, on Bow Street and onto the Smithfield Square car park," he said.
Amid one of the most difficult climates in recent history for town centre retail, Mr Bradley said that the traders on Bow Street remain under "severe pressure".
The retailer said his investment plan is dependent on whether concerns over "killer rates" and issues around the lack of parking can be resolved.
"The two biggest problems we have in Lisburn are rates and parking," said Mr Bradley.
"Whilst we're in for planning and we're keen to do the investment, we need to monitor what the council's plan is for Smithfield Square car park and we're very conscious of the 2020 revaluation by Land and Property.
"If we don't see a reduction, then we will be revisiting this project before we go ahead.
"The plan is fantastic and I would love to deliver it into Lisburn, but there are two huge stumbling blocks."
Founded in 1993, Mr Bradley's retail group opened its first wine outlet in 2006.
Now headquartered in Magherafelt, the group's portfolio includes seven retail outlets across Mid Ulster and the north west, four with forecourts and five with wine stores.
He also operates an online retail operation, homedeliverywine.com.