Published Thursday, 14 June 2012
Staff add finishing touches in the £1m flagship Eason store in Belfast. (© Presseye)
Eason & Son, Northern Ireland's largest retailer of books, stationery, news and magazines opens a new flagship store in the heart of Belfast city centre on Friday.
The new Eason store which replaces WH Smith at 40-46 Donegall Place, will be a newly designed "concept store".
With 19,000 square feet, the store will nearly double their existing space in Belfast and in a first for Northern Ireland, with a café with seating for up to 42 customers on the lower ground floor.
Conor Whelan, Managing Director, Eason said: "We are excited to make this announcement. We have drawn inspiration from across the globe to deliver a wholly new retail experience for our customers and we look forward to welcoming old and new customers alike.
"The new store will be our 12th branch in Northern Ireland and demonstrates our commitment to customers in Belfast city centre and our business in Northern Ireland."
Some of the shop's new initiatives include a new children's department where children and parents can enjoy reading together, a teen section and a new reading room where customers will be encouraged to read before buying and an e-store.
The £8 million investment programme in Northern Ireland is being rolled out over three years as part of a wider retail strategy.
As part of the investment programme, the Rushmere Shopping Centre store in Craigavon has already received the exciting new Children's department which has been very well received and its stores in Foyleside Shopping Centre and Bow Street, Lisburn will be fully refurbished during 2012 while further investment will be made in the other stores across Northern Ireland in due course.
The opening will be a welcome one for Belfast's city centre, which has suffered a number of closures over the past year.
Belfast Chamber of Commerce Joe Jordan has said that more help is needed to regenerate the retail district.
A five-point plan was drawn up by Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce to address the issues affecting the city's high street, including re-examining high rates, policies to help existing retailers, initiatives to attract inward investment and improved city centre planning and organisation.
© UTV News