Monday, March 3, 2014

Irish Outlet reveals plans for leisure facilities to safeguard future

Published 26/02/2014 Simon Cunningham -

THE owners of The Outlet outside Banbridge are to place less emphasis on retail in order to "safeguard the future" of the centre.

Instead, plans have been unveiled for a new cinema, restaurants and other leisure facilities in a move hoped to create 200 new jobs.

The factory outlet just off the main Belfast to Dublin road opened in 2007.

However, the onset of the recession and a drop in numbers coming north from the Republic to shop has seen it struggle to reach the potential envisaged by developers with high vacancy rates a particular issue.

It is now proposed to change for part of the centre in a move intended to provide a "consolidation of the retail offering".

It will include a new eight-screen cinema, operated by Omniplex, a 7,000 sq ft children's indoor play area, two additional restaurants and a garden centre.

The new leisure operators are expected to pump between £6 million and £8m into the scheme.
Separately, McDonald's has submitted plans for a drive-through restaurant at the outlet while Tesco plans to open a new 60,000 sq ft Extra store on the site creating another 250 jobs.

The Lotus Group has been appointed to submit the plans for repositioning the centre.

Its director of asset management Alastair Coulson said: "Our research demonstrates that visitors expect a mix and vibrancy of uses for what is often a family day out. This is something we can offer by consolidating the retail offering and introducing a leisure element to the scheme to create a family friendly destination."

He said the project could secure the jobs of 500 people already working at the Outlet when it is completed early next year.

"We have already seen the success that W5 Lite and new restaurants have brought to the centre, and the new proposals will build upon those successes to help safeguard The Outlet's future," he said.

"The changes will bring The Outlet's offer into line with other successful centres in Great Britain and Ireland, and significantly reduce the current vacancy rate to just 10 per cent."

Paul Anderson from Omniplex Cinemas said: "As part of Omniplex Group's ongoing expansion plans we have identified a need in the Banbridge area for a regional cinema with extensive on-site parking and complementary food and beverage offerings.

"This proposal offers a fantastic opportunity for the provision of a cinema complex that will facilitate a £3m investment by Omniplex and create in the region of 40 to 50 jobs.

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