M&S marks half century by revealing further growth

M&S Head of Region for Northern Ireland Ryan Lemon; Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister; M&S chief executive Steve Rowe and M&S Belfast store manager Colin McGreevy. Photo: Brian Thompson

RETAIL giant Marks & Spencer marked a half-century of trading in Northern Ireland yesterday by revealing plans to create 80 jobs at a new 7,400 sq ft food hall and 50 seat café in Craigavon.

That will run alongside food stores opening next month at Belfast International Airport and next year in Carrickfergus, alongside the relocation of the Newry store to the Quays shopping complex after Christmas.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe was in Belfast yesterday to mark the retail milestone (M&S opened its first store in Belfast's Donegall Place on September 7 1967), paving the way for UK investment into the local market.

It currently employs more than 3,000 people in its stores in Belfast, Lisburn, Bangor, Abbeycentre, Enniskillen, Foyleside, Ballymena, Newry, Newtownbreda, Omega, Upper Road, Malone Road, Crescent Link, Cookstown, Coleraine, Bow Street, Boucher Road, Armagh, Junction One and Banbridge.

"We hope the next 50 years will be as successful as the last," said Rowe.

“Marks & Spencer's success here is down to the mutual support of our customers, suppliers and dedicated colleagues over the last five decades. Each and every one of them deserves a huge thank you for the role they have played in making M&S Northern Ireland the fantastic business it is today."

Ryan Lemon, head of region for M&S in Northern Ireland said: “Our continued expansion at Aldergrove, Carrickfergus, Newry and now Craigavon, brings even more opportunities to make every moment special for our loyal customers.

“We are privileged to be part of the local community in Northern Ireland and in this anniversary year, staff from every store took on 50 ambitious community projects during a two-week period, everything from renovating charity shops and animal shelters, to tea parties and sewing bees.

"We have also committed to play our part in delivering one million hours of community volunteering by 2025, to help make a difference to the projects and initiatives that really matter in the communities we serve.”

The company says it continues to buy into the local supply chain,with its suppliers including Glens of Antrim Potatoes, Avondale Foods, Karro Cookstown, Hovis Belfast, Moy Park, Skea Eggs, Dale Farm, Finnebrogue Artisan, Linden Foods, Genesis Bakery.

To mark the anniversary Steve Rowe and M&S retail director Sacha Berendji met with Belfast lord mayor Nuala McAllister.

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