Dublin's Grafton Street shopping precinct is to get a major boost with the decision by fashion giant H&M to open a large store in the former National Irish Bank on College Green.
The new outlet will be two doors away from the Aber- crombie & Fitch fashion shop which is trading strongly in another landmark building once occupied by the Bank of Ireland.
The world’s second largest fashion retailer is understood to have agreed a rent in the region of €800,000 for the spacious College Green block which is noted for its ornate exterior and handsome banking hall.
The company will have the option of trading out of around 1,858sq m (20,000sq ft) on up to four levels, including mezzanines, over the ground and first floors.
The building has an overall floor area of 2,850sq m (30,676sq ft) across seven levels.
Property investors Paddy McKillen and Tony Leonard, whose company, Clarendon Properties, bought the former bank building from Danske Bank for close to €4.5 million, are expected to seek planning permission to install a shop front into the rear of the building opposite the Dublin tourist office on Andrew Street.
This frontage was remodelled in 1980 to accommodate a loading bay and three floors of modern offices overhead.
Clarendon also owns the Abercrombie & Fitch building where it secured permission to open a separate retail unit for Cult Clothing at the rear of the old bank building on Suffolk Street.
Commercial agent Savills, which handled the sale of the NIB building, also negotiated the letting to H&M.
The Stockholm-based H&M already operates a substantial store at the Gaiety Centre on the pedestrianised South King Street where it shares the limelight with Zara and Warehouse.
H&M is paying a base rent of €800,000 with a turnover related top-up that could go as high as €690,343 for 1,672sq m (18,000sq ft) at ground and first floor levels.
With the South King Street complex not performing as strongly as expected because of the absence of other high profile shops on the street, Zara – the world's largest clothes retailer in 2011 – is also expected to pitch for a more prominent location on Grafton Street for another of its brands, Massimo Dutti.
The Gaiety Centre was developed by Joe O'Reilly, the main investor in the Dundrum Town Centre, who sold 90 per cent of the retail element to the investment arm of Anglo Irish Bank at the height of the property bubble for €101 million.
Incredulously, the bank settled for a net yield of only 2.75 per cent for the core income as well as the top-up payments even though these depend on the level of sales.
That investment is expected to be offered for sale again by Nama following the collapse of the bank.
H&M has sales outlets in 43 countries and employs around 94,000 people. The first store was opened in Sweden in 1947 and by last August the number had increased to 2,629. The planned College Green store will be the company’s 13 outlet in Ireland.