Sports Direct buys Donegall Arcade in first city centre investment
BELFAST'S Donegall Arcade has been acquired by the UK's number one sports retailer, Sports Direct, in a multi-million pound deal.
In what has been described as a "significant move" for the commercial property sector in Northern Ireland, the retailer will open in the former Curry's unit in the arcade next year.
It is the first time Sports Direct has invested in a unit in the city centre and coincides with an announcement by brand rival Lifestyle Sports that it too is opening a flagship shop on the same street.
Donegall Arcade comprises 75,000 square feet of prime retail space and is almost fully occupied, housing many well known names including HMV, TK Maxx and Game.
Owned by Newcastle United owner and retail billionaire Mike Ashley, Sports Direct has over 750 stores across the world and was floated on London's FTSE 100 stock exchange in 2007.
Since then, the share price has risen considerably with the brand expanding to become not only the UK's leading sports retailer by revenue and profit, but also the owner of a significant number of world-famous sport, fashion and lifestyle brands.
A spokesperson for Sports Direct said the acquisition had been an "exciting" decision for the company and everyone involved was looking forward to holding a central position in Belfast's "impressive retail offering".
"We believe there is a gap in the market for our diverse product range which includes world-famous brands such as Nike, Adidas and Puma, Dunlop, and Slazenger," he said.
"The intention is also to incorporate, where possible, the group’s new low cost gymnasium brand in future sites.
"Our strategy for the coming years is to expand further and open more sport and gym superstores. We recognise the opportunities which are open in the UK and Ireland and will continue to explore other potential sites as we move forwards with these plans."
Commercial property agent Lambert Smith Hampton acted on behalf of Sports Direct to secure the centre.
Welcoming Sports Direct to central Belfast, Ryan Kee, director of retail agency at Lambert Smith Hampton, which acted on behalf of the retailer to secure the centre, said the move would send a clear message of confidence to the market.
"This is a very significant move for the retailer and it is coming at a time when the sector is seeing an upsurge in activity as consumer confidence rises once more," he said.