Business

New O'Neills superstore to open in Belfast city centre next week

O'Neills' new Royal Avenue store at CastleCourt. Picture by Hugh Russell
Ryan McAleer

O’NEILLS will open its first store in Belfast city centre on Thursday (March 5), the sportswear manufacturer has confirmed.

Some 25 jobs have been created by the new retail venture in the former Virgin Megastore unit on Royal Avenue, which has been vacant since August 2018.

The investment by O’Neills is expected to provide a footfall boost for CastleCourt and Royal Avenue, which has suffered from the fallout of the Primark fire at its flagship Bank Buildings store.

The Strabane-based company, which has become synonymous with the GAA, has grown into the largest sportswear manufacturing company on the island of Ireland, with a staff of around 900 people.

It already operates stores in Derry, Craigavon, Newry, Enniskillen, Magherafelt, Dublin and in west Belfast.

Last year O’Neills said the addition of new stores in Derry and Craigavon had helped boost its sales by eight per cent.

Speaking to the Irish News, O’Neills’ managing director Kieran Kennedy, said the investment in the anchor unit at CastleCourt represents a significant expansion for the business in the north.

Despite a challenging environment for high street retailers, O’Neills has increasingly invested in its physical presence to compliment its online marketplace.

The managing director said the decision was taken in response to growing customer demand for its products.

“We had been looking for the right location in Belfast city centre for some time in addition to our existing successful store in the Kennedy Centre in west Belfast – and our determination has paid off,” said Mr Kennedy.

“Establishing key retail developments in urban areas has been identified as key area of business growth for the company following on from successful retail operations in Belfast and Derry.

“Our vision has become a reality with the support of all the key stakeholders whose help we wish to acknowledge, and we look forward to welcoming customers to our fantastic new superstore located across two floors at CastleCourt Shopping Centre.”

The latest set of accounts for O’Neills, which cover the 12 months to December 31 2018, show the company finished that year with an operating profit of £1.1m.

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