M&S leans further into food business with plans for new Coleraine supermarket

Ryan McAleer

MARKS & Spencer has announced plans for a new food store in Coleraine as new figures show supermarkets in the north are continuing to enjoy considerable growth during the pandemic.

Grocery analyst Kantar recorded a 12.2 per cent growth in spending in the year ending March 21 2021, with sales up 6.2 per cent in the latest 12 weeks.

The research continues to point to changing patterns in the behavior of Northern Ireland shoppers when it comes to grocery shopping.

Supermarket visits were down by an average of 26 per person over the year, but spending per trip soared by 20.9 per cent.

M&S has responded to the growth in food sales by focusing more on its better performing grocery and online ends in the past year.

In the second half of last year it confirmed plans to develop a £6 million food store in Banbridge and expand its food offering at the Crescent Link retail park in Derry.

Now the supermarket chain is proposing a 17,100 sq ft food hall at the Riverside Retail park in Coleraine.

It's understood the plans centre around two units previously occupied by Maplin and Starplan.

Sainsbury's and Lidl already operate from the location.

It represents an investment of around £2.5m, with around 70 jobs expected to be created once open and operational.

M&S currently employs 2,800 people across 21 stores in Northern Ireland.

Philip Conlon, who heads the M&S operation in the north said: ““We are always thinking about how we can deliver great service for our customers.

“We believe that Riverside Retail Park is the ideal location to open a new M&S food hall to serve not only the Coleraine area, but the entire north coast.

“The new food hall will provide customers with a bigger and better shopping experience, as well as convenient and accessible car parking.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Riverside Retail Park said: “This will be a significant investment in Coleraine of £2.5m - creating 40 jobs during the construction phase and supporting a further 70 full time and part time jobs when the store is opened and operational.

“Given the economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and by Brexit we believe this investment represents a real vote of confidence in Coleraine.”

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