PORTADOWN is set for a major boost with the announcement that a top UK discount retailer is to open a new store.
Home Bargains, which recently opened a branch at Rushmere Shopping Centre, is to occupy a 10,000 sq feet unit at High Street Mall, becoming the centre’s second anchor tenant.
The store sells a range of food, toys, beauty products, gardening and home products at discount prices.
Work is due to start shortly on extending the mall at the Woodhouse Street end and will finish in mid-January, with an opening date of Easter.
An announcement on the number of jobs to be created is expected shortly.
The news comes as another store, Houseproud, opens its doors today (Friday) in the former Peacocks premises at Magowan Buildings.
The shop, which employs six full-time and part-time staff, replaces the company’s shop in North Street, Lurgan, which had become too small, and a temporary unit in the Meadows Shopping Centre.
High Street Mall manager Tracey Jackson said the mall had invested half a million pounds in the extension and that the opening of Home Bargains would further cement the ‘shopping triangle’ of Magowan West, High Street Mall and the high street.
Paul Wilson, director of BTW Shiells and letting agent to High Street Mall, said attracting Home Bargains was “a fantastic boost for High Street Mall and Portadown town centre” .
He added, “Home Bargains will provide a complementary mix to the centre’s existing retailers and will essentially offer a point of difference to other discount retailers represented in Portadown. It is refreshing and encouraging in these difficult financial times to see new investment and development in the centre.”
President of Portadown Chamber of Commerce Adrian Farrell said the new Home Bargains store was evidence that Portadown was still attracting major, new businesses.
The good news on the retail front comes just a week after a survey by property group Lisney. It revealed that Portadown had the second highest vacancy rate for shops out of 17 towns across Northern Ireland.
Mr Farrell pointed out that while many multinationals were reviewing and reducing their branches on the high street - which had resulted in closures in Portadown - others continued to open branches.
However, the issues of rates and car parking charges, and their adverse effect on the town centre, was raised at a meeting last week with Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, attended by local traders, politicians and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce.
Both MP David Simpson and Mr Farrell revealed that there could still be movement on the controversial parking charges, with talks currently ongoing between the Finance Minister and Roads Minister Danny Kennedy.
Mr Farrell said he was optimistic about the future for Portadown, pointing out that the £6 million plus investment to improve the People’s Park and the refurbishment of Portadown Train Station would all contribute to the future advancement of the town.