O'Neills invests £1 million in new high street venture in Belfast city centre

Staff at O'Neills new store help cut the ribbon on the new Royal Avenue outlet. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Ryan McAleer

IRISH sportswear group O'Neills has said its new store in Belfast city centre represents an investment of more than £1 million.

A total of 25 jobs have been created by the new 8,500 sq ft store, which opened its doors on Royal Avenue on Thursday morning.

The large anchor unit at CastleCourt, once synonymous with Virgin Megastores, had been vacant since August 2018.

The decision by the Strabane-based company to open its eighth outlet at the shopping centre has provided a much needed boost for the complex, which suffered a significant impact from the fallout of the fire at Primark's Bank Buildings store.

“This is something different for us in that we're now really on the high street,” said O'Neills' managing director Kieran Kennedy.

“Our other shops are strategically located around the north, but this is a real first venture on the actual high street.

“We're always looking ahead. We did our research here and there still is a lot of footfall around this area, but we believe the footfall will increase when the work is completed at Bank Buildings.”

Mr Kennedy said he believes there exists a gap in the market for the range of products offered by the company.

“I don't think there's anyone else in the city centre that's doing what we do in terms of fulfilling the demand. But it's not just GAA gear, we have moved into athleisure, where especially ladies and children are wearing gear all the time.

“That whole leisure market is continuing to grow year-on-year.”

The O'Neills boss said he also believes the store will be well placed for the significant increase in the thousands of students relocating to accommodation in Belfast city.

“You've got to fish where the fish are. There's going to be a huge density of student population here and our brand is synonymous with the younger generation. That has influenced our decision, but at the end of the day, our main decision was to make a statement, say we have arrived on the market here in Belfast and that we're ready for business.”

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