Foodies rejoice as Nisbets opens catering equipment store in Belfast
INTERNATIONAL catering equipment giant Nisbets throws open the doors of its first Northern Ireland store on Tuesday at Royal Avenue in Belfast.
The Bristol-headquartered global retailer has located to the building formerly occupied by clothing store Cult.
Its 8,500 sq ft of trading space over three floors will stock 3,500 lines of equipment aimed at foodies, amateur chefs and enthusiastic bakers, as well as a range of high-end appliances aimed specifically at trade professionals.
The company's retail development manager Sandra Scott told the Irish News: "Since launching as a catalogue business in 1983 we've built a reputation as the supplier of choice for restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, hotels and professional caterers, and our export division ships to more than 100 countries.
"We have a distribution centre in Cork, but Belfast will be our first fully-fledged retail operation on the island of Ireland, and we see Royal Avenue as the perfect location.
"It will be our 25th store in all, and will have a permanent staff of seven in Belfast," she said.
But Ms Scott ruled out further bricks-and-mortar growth in Northern Ireland for Nisbets, which has more than 800 staff working from its UK headquarters, European offices and recently acquired subsidiary company in Australia.
"Despite the recent growth of retail stores, including three in Scotland and one in Wales, we have developed a particularly strong online presence, and have a mail order catalogue boasting more than 25,000 lines from brands such as Buffalo, Polar, Vogue, Waring and Chef Works," she said.
"We have a dozen or so further stores planned, including one in Dublin, but we don't anticipate further growth in Northern Ireland at this stage."
She added: "We believe growth, innovation and outstanding customer service set us apart from the rest. We have 500,000 customers worldwide, and since 2011 we've recorded and acted upon more than 80,000 customer feedbacks."
She said it was fitting that Nisbets should open in a city with such a passion for fine food, adding that "this will be music to the ears of many a professional and domestic foodie".
“Our philosophy around the globe is exactly the same of that in the UK: to provide high quality equipment, at an affordable price, with next day delivery and exceptional customer service. As a result, Nisbets is a one-stop shop for all catering professionals."
Last month Nisbets was awarded a highly prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise, for International Trade. It came as its total export sales soared by 205 per cent since 2010, with the company recording overall sales of £255 million for its last fiscal year.
The arrival of Nisbets could breathe new life into Belfast's prime shopping thoroughfare, which is still blighted by a number of vacant retail units.
Indeed most recent figures from the monthly Springboard and NI Retail Consortium barometer revealed that high street shopper footfall was down 3.6 per cent in March compared with February - the third consecutive month of decline.
That contrasts sharply with increases in high street and shopping centre footfall across most other UK cities.
Indeed, consumer confidence and inflation have worsened from last year, which is likely to be constraining shoppers' willingness to spend on retail goods, according to experts.