Belfast's Royal Avenue welcomes new tenant at former Ashers site

Warrens Bakery has opened at the former home of Ashers Bakery on Royal Avenue
Gareth McKeown

ONE of the first new businesses has opened on Belfast's Royal Avenue following the Primark fire.

Warrens Bakery, which has over 70 stores across the UK, opened its first outlet in the north this week at the former home of Asher's Bakery.

Voted the UK's top craft bakery in 2018, the business dates back to 1860 and describes itself as the world's oldest pasty maker.

It is also recognised for its famous range of breads, freshly made sandwiches, sweet and savoury treats, tasty breakfast goods and on-the-go snacks.

The prime Royal Avenue site was vacated by Ashers in October after owner Daniel McArthur decided not to renew the lease, citing a lack of footfall as a direct result of the Bank Buildings blaze on August 28.

In the wake of the Primark fire footfall figures highlighted a 60 per cent decline in some areas of the city centre, with retail heavily impacted by a cordon in the main shopping district.

Last week saw the removal of part of the cordon and the re-opening of a number of prominent businesses including McDonalds and Primark, providing a timely boost during the traditionally busy Christmas period.

Irish department store Guineys has also opened at Castle Junction, while Cookie Box at Castle Place will welcome back customers from Saturday.

Northern Ireland Retail Consortium director Aodhán Connolly welcomed the new addition to city centre.

"It's great news," he said.

"One of the good things about this is that it shows Belfast city centre is still a viable option for investment and is still open for business. Now what Belfast city centre needs more than anything is for our shoppers to come out in droves."

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Deirdre Hargey added:

“It has been a difficult few months for city centre traders following the devastating fire at Bank Buildings, but it's great to see Belfast buzzing again – the city really has come alive with Christmas."

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