Primark plans to reopen its refurbished flagship Belfast store in the first week in November more than four years after a devastating fire in August 2018 forced it to close.
The fast-fashion clothing retailer — a subsidiary of Associated British Foods that trades in the Republic as Penneys — said it had set the “target opening date” for the expanded Bank Buildings store in Belfast city centre after an “extensive” four-year restoration project that is now nearing completion.
The redevelopment of the store, which Primark described as “complex”, is part of wider investment in Northern Ireland by the chain that will also see the opening of a new Primark store in Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon, Co Armagh.
The reopened Primark Bank Buildings flagship store will feature 88,200sq ft of retail space, an increase of 76 per cent on the previous store size, with the fifth floor becoming part of the outlet for the first time. This floor will house Primark’s full homewares range, the company said, while the revamped store will also feature a new Disney cafe located on the second floor and a nail and beauty studio for customers.
Primark’s existing store on Castle Street will merge with the restored Bank Buildings site to create the new larger store, while as part of the process, a smaller Primark store at Fountain House, Donegall Place, will close in the days before the Bank Buildings reopening, with all employees transferring to the new store.
“We want to thank the people of Belfast for their ongoing support and patience whilst we undertook the extensive rebuilding works at our iconic Bank Buildings site,” said Primark chief executive Paul Marchant.
“We recognise how much the business community and wider city of Belfast has been affected by the devastating fire at our store back in 2018. We have put our heart and soul into retaining, conserving and restoring this much-loved historical building. We are nearly there with this redevelopment, and we cannot wait to finally reopen the doors and welcome our customers and our colleagues back into our Bank Buildings store.”
Lord mayor of Belfast Tina Black said the fire at the listed building on Royal Avenue had been a “turning point” for the city, acting as a “springboard” for elected members and city partners to trial new ways to support regeneration in the city.
“This has been a long and complex restoration project, and local traders and shoppers have shown great patience and resilience. We hope the opening of Primark’s extended flagship store will provide a major boost to businesses, particularly in the run-up to the busy Christmas season,” she said.
The building had been undergoing a refurbishment in August 2018 when a fire broke out and burned for four days, with more than 100 firefighters required to tackle the blaze. An investigation by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service subsequently found the cause to be accidental.