£4m retail park investment could create 100 new jobs

A computer-generated image of how The Outlet will look during the daytime after redevelopment.
A computer-generated image of how The Outlet will look during the daytime after redevelopment.

A multi-million pound investment designed to “reinvigorate” The Outlet retail park could create more than 100 new jobs, it has been claimed.

The £4 million investment by The Lotus Group, owners of the Banbridge property, will include the installation of a roof-like cover over the mall.

Made from a transparent plastic membrane, the covering for the walkways will be a first for a retail park in Northern Ireland.

Similar coverings have been used at the Eden Project in Cornwall, Beijing’s National Aquatics Centre and FC Bayern Munich stadium.

Plans for the site will also include the recladding of all units and a new children’s play area.

The investment will see dramatic changes to the look and feel of The Outlet as it currently sits.

A decision on the planning application for the project is expected to be brought forward in the near future.

The Lotus Group expects that an additional 100 permanent jobs will be created following the improvements, with 20 jobs created during the construction period.

Several new tenants have recently arrived at The Outlet including a McDonald’s restaurant, a nine-screen Omniplex cinema, a Bench clothing store and a Smyth & Gibson outlet.

Alastair Coulson, Asset and Property Management Director with The Lotus Group, said: “When we bought The Outlet, we saw the opportunity to reinvigorate the site through capital investment with the installation of a covering for the walkways, a new children’s play area, as well as new cladding on all retail units. Customer surveys undertaken by the centre manager team and comments from retailers have highlighted the need for a covered walkway. The new covering will allow for a sheltered walkway to enhance the shopping experience at The Outlet.”

He continued: “We are confident that these improvements will not only give us a competitive edge, but will encourage new high-profile tenants to The Outlet and ultimately more choice for shoppers.

“These improvements will build on the success we have already experienced since we acquired the scheme nine months ago. We have enjoyed a growth of 27 per cent in sales densities and a 26 per cent increase in the number of shoppers visiting the scheme since we bought The Outlet. This has been attained by opening new stores, fully integrated marketing package including TV advertising and working closely with the retailers on their stock packages.”

Mr Coulson added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the Banbridge area, bringing new and permanent jobs for local people, as well as indirect benefits to the local supply chain. We are hopeful that additional investment will follow after this re-development, attracting further brands that shoppers want.”