Tesco revives new store plan after retail sales recovery makes it 'viable'
British retail giant Tesco has indicated that at least one proposed new store halted by the downturn could now restart because of the improved retail environment in Ireland. The company is seeking to reheat abandoned plans for a major new store in Wicklow.
In a submission to the local authority on behalf of the retailer, consultant GVA Planning said it was seeking an extension of no more than five years to the previously granted planning permission for the store, due to run out last week.
"The applicant has not yet commenced development, however, it is the applicant's intention to commence and complete the proposed redevelopment of the existing store in the near future," wrote the planning consultant.
It added that it was including the submission so as "to outline how the recent economic climate has affected the applicant's ability to commence and complete the proposed development to date."
It said the site should be viewed "in light of the recent economic and commercial activity in the Irish retail market". Tesco's plans to demolish the existing 2,656 sq m store and replace it with a 6,874 sq m store were previously granted permission in 2013.
"This commercial development was designed to serve the existing/expanding residential population of Wicklow Town but due to the economic downturn the viability of this development was restricted and retail sales were negatively impacted upon," it said. "These factors contributed to the development becoming temporarily unviable.
"However, an uplift in the market has occurred and it is the applicant's intention to secure the commencement, completion and operation of this commercial development."
Strong growth in the CSO's Retail Sales Index since October 2016 "demonstrates that the recovery in retail sales is continuing and development of the Tesco Store in Wicklow Town will be viable in the future". A spokeswoman for Tesco, which has 149 stores here, said it was "still working through the timings at this point" for the new development.
"Whilst we have an active property portfolio and continue to look for interesting opportunities, we are also focused on investing in our existing stores to improve the shopping experience for customers. We recently confirmed details of our €70m investment in stores across the country in the year ahead. As part of this, we will open a new €30m retail centre at Liffey Valley in May 2018 creating 150 new jobs." That follows the opening of a new store in Swords, Co Dublin, last year.
Sunday Indo Business