Castelcourt befies the odds and bounces back with dramatic sales growth

The Belfast shopping centre has taken on four new tenants and expect to see four more in the coming six weeks

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 6:00 am

Belfast city centre’s CastleCourt shopping centre has reported strong performance with a dramatic increase in customer spend since reopening on April 30.

CastleCourt which is home to 80 retailers employing a total of 1,000 people has defied all forecasts of a slump following the closure of anchor tenant Debenhams three weeks ago.

Centre manager Leona Barr says performance has been stronger than expected and spells out a clear message of the resilience of its retailers and the centre itself.

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Leona Barr, centre manager of Castlecourt

Ms Barr who cites 2020 as an inactive year and is drawing comparisons with 2019 instead, said: “Some of our retailers have seen a dramatic leap in sales particularly those in fashion and footwear.

“Matalan whose average basket spend is up by 22%, has vastly out-performed sales in 2019. Jack & Jones have reported unprecedented growth on the same period May 19 vs May 21 and are encouraged by the increase in average basket spend also.”

Brendan McDowell, director of BPerfect cosmetics which started out in CastleCourt on a commercialisation stand in the centre’s mall, continued: “Our flagship store in Belfast has exceeded all expectations. Trade has been strong since reopening in April, and as a Belfast born brand, it feels great to open our doors again in the heart of the city. We’re really happy.”

Del Piero’s managing director Stephen Smyth, who operates three sites in CastleCourt, explained: “Del Piero’s new flagship café has got off to a great start post lockdown. Sales of our new range of premium Italian recipe dough pizzas have outstripped expectations.”

O’Brien’s café and takeaway has undergone extensive refurbishments and is now rebranded Synge & Byrne. In addition to strong performance of existing retailers, CastleCourt has taken on four new tenants and expect to see four more in the coming six weeks.

New arrivals include furniture store Exclusive Designs, Pelo Hairdressing, acupuncture clinic Dr Needles, Belleek which was formerly a concession within Debenhams and an extensive new bar restaurant Folk Town, named in tribute to the old Folk Town market which used to be held in Bank Square at the rear of CastleCourt.

A new rooftop area to provide outdoor seating to support CastleCourt’s food and beverage retailers when restrictions were tighter will remain open and Ms Barr says she plans to add more seating to it soon.

Meanwhile, work is progressing on a replacement for Debenhams and an announcement is expected in the coming weeks.

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