The local owner of an American smoothie and juice bar franchise has reinforced Belfast’s favourable geographical location, citing it as the gateway to UK and Ireland brand expansion.
Smoothie Factory created 10 new jobs when it opened at Arc Retail in the Titanic Quarter at the weekend representing an investment of £250,000 by master franchise partner and business man, Andrew McQueen from Bangor.
Belfast is only the beginning for this global franchise with further plans revealed by McQueen that will see 25 more stores opened across the UK and Ireland in the next five years.
The next store is due to open in London over the summer with one in Bournemouth likely to follow soon after.
Further locations in Northern Ireland are still under negotiation but more Belfast stores as well as towns such as Lisburn, Newry, Londonderry, Holywood are currently on the table.
Such investment would see upwards of 50 direct new jobs created as well as indirect roles through partnership with local contractors, fit out companies, designers and suppliers of fresh fruit and ingredients.
The comment comes on the back of last week’s news which saw Bank of London name Belfast as the gateway city to the EU, and echoes other local business’ sentiment around the positive opportunities for Belfast and Northern Ireland with regards the NI Protocol.
Andrew McQueen, a former banker, and now managing director of Smoothie Factory, UK and Ireland, said: “Belfast was the obvious location for Smoothie Factory’s first entry to the UK and Irish market and not simply because I am local. Good things are happening here and there is a lot of interest from further afield in the city and NI as a whole due to our location on the island of Ireland and the option to do business in both regions.
“The demand for healthy and nutritious food and drink options has grown exponentially over the past five years and we saw an opportunity to bring an iconic American brand to the marketplace and redefine the out-of-home food offering for health conscious consumers.
“This is only the beginning for Smoothie Factory and we’re delighted by the success of opening weekend and the opportunities to roll-out to some of NI’s bigger towns and London later this year.”
Belfast Giants’ head coach Adam Keefe helped with the official opening of the store.