DIY giant B&Q may open as many as ten stores in Ireland, its owner, Kingfisher, said yesterday.
On Friday, its first Irish store will begin trading in Liffey Valley on the M50 in West Dublin.
The store of 150,000 sq ft will be five times larger than the biggest grocery supermarket permitted under Irish legislation. The limits do not apply to B&Q as it does not sell food. The outlet will also be the largest DIY outlet in the country.
A spokesperson for the group said it hoped to have ten such stores in Ireland in "several years" in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dublin. She added the company had not secured sites for the outlets.
The entry of B&Q into the Irish market will stiffen competition for existing players like Heitons and Woodies.
The Liffey Valley store was opened yesterday by Tánaiste Mary Harney, who said that B&Q had built up links with Enterprise Ireland and a large range of Irish manufacturers and suppliers.
She said: "At present B&Q works with 32 Irish suppliers and B&Q is committed to purchasing products worth ?100m from Ireland in 2002 and 2003."
The company will employ 220 people locally.