Dublin in 'fashion heaven' as Zara opens doors


Dubliners went to fashion heaven this morning as one of the capital's oldest department stores, Roches Stores, opened its revamped shop with the popular Spanish chain Zara as its main attraction.

The 20,000-square-foot store fronting onto Henry Street is the first Zara to open in the Republic, and such was its popularity this morning, the chain will almost certainly be soon hunting for retail space elsewhere.

By early morning, Zara resembled Armageddon as shoppers of all ages practically tore the store apart, whipping up trendy clothes from shelves and hangers and queuing in their dozens for the changing rooms.

At 10.30 a.m., around 40 women formed a snake-like queue from the check-out, as they waited to pay for arm-loads of purchases. It was a retail therapy phenomenon, which will see many dedicated shoppers needing credit card therapy by Saturday.

Zara, a Spanish chain owned by the Inditex group, has significant brand recognition in Ireland among fashion-conscious women and men who have bought its clothes abroad. The chain is something of a fashion mecca with its renowned ability to copy clothes from the catwalk and have them on the shelves within a fortnight.

However, Zara's prices in Ireland will be somewhat higher than in countries such as Spain, partly due to higher VAT rates on clothing here. Zara, which has 600 shops worldwide, still expects prices here to be around 10 per cent lower than in Britain.

Mr Robert Ward, marketing manager for Roches Stores, said the department store had been "absolutely packed" all morning. "Zara is going down an absolute storm," he told ireland.com."There's been a fabulous reaction to the store as a whole." Mr Ward said the staff at Roches Stores had handled the last 18-months of major refurbishment work "brilliantly". The store managed to keep its doors open for the duration of the work.

Mr Ward said "without question" he believed the Henry Street store would attract customers from the traditionally more upmarket shopping areas south of the city.

"We have over 20 new brands that are in Ireland for the first time that people are used to seeing on holidays and that they go abroad to buy," he said.

Roches Stores, with a presence in Henry Street since 1927, has extended its total store space from 70,000 square feet over three floors to 130,000 square feet over five floors. The Henry Street shop is one of 11 owned by Roches Stores throughout the State.