Primark's fire-ravaged Belfast store reopens at last
Closed for four years and behind schedule, the reopening of Primark’s Belfast city centre store has been worth waiting for.
Thousands turned up for event and some of the 300 staff at the rebuilt historic Bank Buildings formed a tunnel to welcome customers back.
Following a major fire in August 2018, which burned for three days, Primark has made a "huge undertaking" to restore the severely damaged five-storey building to the tune of £100m, according to Northern Ireland manager Jacqui Byers.
Rebuilding the stonework alone involved hundreds of people, including stonemasons from all over Ireland. During the rebuild, a safety cordon put in place meant 14 nearby businesses were not able to trade for several months.
The new Primark store is now 76% bigger with the 88,200 sq ft retail space including an extra floor, complete with a Disney experience and café, alongside a beauty studio.
"We're hoping this investment will be beneficial for the people of Belfast too and our neighbours and traders in the city centre," Byers told local press. It's hoped that the improvements will bring more shoppers into the store and help it compete with online retailers.
CEO of Visit Belfast Gerry Lennon said the reopening was "exciting news for Belfast. It's returned to its former glory and it has opened up a major thoroughfare," he told BBC's Good Morning Ulster.
Primark has also confirmed the opening of a new store in Rushmere Shopping Centre, Craigavon, which will launch on 16 December.
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