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Major Belfast retailer may relocate over lack of Primark cordon clarity

Pete Boyle, who owns Argento, said he may relocate to new premises following the Primark fire. Picture by Hugh Russell
Marie Louise McConville

ONE of Belfast's major retailers, which has been unable to trade since the Primark fire, says it is considering relocating due to 'a lack of clarity' about the future of the cordoned off area.

Businessman Pete Boyle, who owns Argento on Royal Avenue, said there was still no clear indication of when the area around Bank Buildings would re-open.

Belfast City Council said last week that the cordon around the area - which has left 14 businesses unable to trade - would remain in place for at least four months, including over the Christmas period.

However some members of the business community believe this could be extended.

As a result, the businesses located within the area have left with the decision to either wait until the cordon is lifted or relocate.

Initially, Mr Boyle said he would not be relocating but yesterday, he told the Irish News that he "can't afford not to trade" in the run up to Christmas and as a result, was now considering a move.

"Our intention is to get to the end of September. If there is no sign, we will move," he said.

Mr Boyle said "more clarity" about the cordon was needed.

"The longer it goes on, it is less likely it will be open for Christmas," he said.

"We can't afford to lose our customers. We would lose Christmas and our suppliers. They need us.

"We can't afford not to trade".

Mr Boyle said the company was looking at new potential units at Queen's Arcade and at Cornmarket.

"In 25 years, I have never seen anything like this," he said.

"This is a very unique situation. In the long term, it could damage the city".

Another trader, Aldo shoe store based at Donegall Place, also within the cordon, said it is working with the council and other affected businesses "to reach and activate a recovery plan for the area".

Meanwhile, large yellow dots have been painted on streets around the city centre in a bid to encourage and direct footfall following the fire.

The yellow trail of dots show shoppers routes that are open while a cordon around Bank Buildings remains in place.

Details of the trail and a list of shops which remain open or are closed have also been included on new signs which have been erected around the city centre.

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