Factory outlet complex at Goffs moves a step closer

 

Plans to open a factory outlet shopping complex on Dublin's doorstep have been brought forward following a decision by Kildare County Council to rezone a 10acre site for the retail facility at Goffs, off the Naas road near Kill. Development work on the £20 million project is now likely to get under way within the next 12 months. The project is to be funded by Value Retail, a British/US company which operates similar centres in Britain, Europe and the US.

Mr John Holmes of Value Retail said he expected that planning permission will be issued in the next few weeks and even if the issue is appealed to An Bord Pleanala, he was confident that the plan would get the all-clear. There would then be a lead-in time of four months for design and tenant negotiations. The rezoning decision has taken many people by surprise, none more so than shopkeepers in Naas who fear that the "tourist outlet village" could undermine business in the town.

The reality is likely to be somewhat different. The retail complex will undoubtedly attract most of its business from Dublin because of its accessibility to the city along the N7, just 16 miles from O'Connell Street. The complex will also be in direct competition with The Square in Tallaght, Blanchardstown Town Centre and the recently opened Liffey Valley Shopping Centre along the M50 where the promoters have yet to deliver a satisfactory level of business for many of the traders.

The Kill factory outlet will not be the first in Ireland. Green Property is currently building a similar facility in Killarney, which will open for business in June. In Co Louth, the planners are also expected to grant permission for one of two sites put forward by rival developers.

Factory outlet shopping has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the retail business in Britain and the US in recent years. The concept has broad appeal because of the huge discounts available for out-of-season and end-of-line merchandise. The goods invariably come from high profile brands, such as Versace, Ralph Lauren and Fred Perry.

Kill will have 45 outlets with a total of 86,000 sq ft. The average unit will be between 1,500 sq ft and 2,000 sq ft but there will also be two anchors, each with 6,000 sq ft. Mr Holmes says 80 per cent of the overall space will be devoted to fashion with the balance dedicated to "table top goods", such as crockery and glass ware. Goods with minor imperfections will also be sold as seconds.

The developers are also to make space available for a tourist information centre in the expectation that the centre will attract a considerable number of tourists. The promoters say research has shown that 50 per cent of all tourists pass through Kildare. The village is expected to attract 1.3 million visitors in the first year and will employ about 400 people.

The outlets will be leased to manufacturers who must sell items at discounts ranging from 25 to 70 per cent. Traders will be charged a basic rent, as well as a percentage of their turnover.

Goffs is likely to have secured in the region of £2 million for the 10-acre site, which was sold to the Value Retail about two years ago. Druker Fanning & Partners are letting agents for the scheme and William K. Nowlan has been advising Goffs.

Value Retail recently opened a factory outlet at La Roca, near Barcelona, and is currently developing a similar facility at EuroDisney, outside Paris.