Wednesday 21 March 2018

Dunnes planning for revamped flagship Belfast store

The Abbey Centre
The Abbey Centre
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Dunnes Stores is planning a major revamp of an outlet at the Abbey Centre near Belfast, with the intention of creating a new flagship premises in Northern Ireland.

The plans are being advanced in conjunction with the centre's owner, NewRiver Retail, a UK-based real estate investment trust that has about £1bn (€1.36bn) worth of assets under management across Britain and Northern Ireland, including an estate of 158 pubs it bought from Punch Taverns.

"NewRiver are progressing plans with Dunnes Stores to significantly extend and upgrade their existing store to create a new flagship Dunnes store for Northern Ireland," the British company confirmed in a second quarter update yesterday.

The plan to redevelop the existing 16,500 sq ft Dunnes outlet in Newtownabbey marks a détente between the retailer and NewRiver.

Clothing chain Next is building an adjacent store at the centre that will be the biggest of the chain's outlets in Ireland when it's completed in time for Christmas 2016.

Dunnes had gone to court in an effort to block that development.

Earlier this year, Dunnes issued legal proceedings against NewRiver in relation to its plans to build the new Next store.

Dunnes has been a tenant of the Abbey Centre for more than 30 years and claimed that the new store would result in customers entering the shopping complex via a competitor's premises.

Lawyers for Dunnes had also argued that the Next development would cost NewRiver money, with Next being offered a rent-free deal for up to 24 months of a 15-year lease.

Dunnes also claimed the proposals could result in its own store becoming less visible to shoppers.

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