Brown Thomas to open major new shop in Dundrum

Outlet opening in 2021 will take over two floors from departing House of Fraser

Brown Thomas has agreed to let two floors of the House of Fraser department store in the Dundrum Town Centre in a move that will substantially boost its presence in the prime south Dublin retail complex.

Brown Thomas has agreed to take the lower ground floor and the ground floor of the House of Fraser store, which will cease trading in May, The Irish Times has learned.

A spokeswoman for House of Fraser in Dundrum said: "Despite our best efforts over the last 12 months, we have been served notice by our landlords in Dundrum." She said that while the announcement was unexpected, the company remains hopeful that many of the current staff at its Dundrum department store "will now be employed by the new tenant".

The space will undergo a multimillion-euro refit, with the new Brown Thomas store set to open in the first half of 2021, employing more than 400 staff.

The outlet will comprise more than 63,000sq ft of space, roughly half the size of Brown Thomas’s flagship department store on Grafton Street.

The retail sales area of 45,000sq ft will allow Brown Thomas to offer a much larger range of products compared to what it currently provides at its existing BT2 outlet in Dundrum, which will be vacated once the new store is ready.

Brown Thomas said its vision for the store was to create a “contemporary space – mixing physical and digital, designed to enhance the shopping experience for customers”.

‘Enhanced customer experience’

Donald McDonald, managing director of Brown Thomas Arnotts, expressed his delight at having secured the new store. "We have been looking for a larger space at Dundrum for a number of years to enable us to deliver a more enhanced customer experience, and, in particular, to help grow our successful BT2 business there. In the meantime, it will be business as usual for the existing BT2 store in Dundrum, and for customers and team members."

Simon Betty, Hammerson's director of retail for Ireland, said the addition of Brown Thomas at Dundrum would "transform the department store line-up" there.

Hammerson, which manages Dundrum Town Centre and co-owns the retail complex with German insurer Allianz, said it was in advanced discussions with parties on the remaining space at House of Fraser.

No financial details for the letting have been revealed but Brown Thomas is believed to be paying more than €1 million a year for its existing BT2 outlet. House of Fraser was previously reported to be paying rent of €2.4 million for the entire 139,930sq ft store, but figures contained in an administrator’s report in 2018, after the UK retailer ran into financial difficulties, reveal it had rental costs of some €103,000 a month at that time.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times