Sports Direct to launch new Belfast store at Connswater retail complex
SPORTS Direct will open a new Northern Ireland store in the Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park ahead of Christmas, it was announced today
The owners of the retail complex, Alfred Street Properties Ltd, said the sports chain will launch a 4,500 sq ft unit at the complex on December 12.
It’s another new arrival at the complex and follows the openings of Brand Max and Savers Health and Beauty. A Tim Horton’s drivethru is also to open.
Sports Direct is led by Mike Ashley who recently bought House of Fraser and yesterday called on the Government to tax online retailers in a bid to save the high street.
Laura Mccarthy, property asset manager of Alfred Street Prop- erties Ltd, said: “This year has been exceptional for Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park and we are delighted to finish on a high with the arrival of Sports Direct.
Since the opening of The Range at the end of last year there has been a substantial increase in footfall by 50% and we have continued to build on that successful momentum throughout 2018.
“We are looking ahead to next year with optimism and we continue to explore opportunities to improve and diversify our offering.”
Mr Ashley bought embattled House of Fraser in August and has announced some closures of stores in Great Britain.
But it’s understood the Belfast store is to remain open after Victoria Square owner Commerz Real told the Belfast Telegraph that there had been no change in its existing arrangement in Victoria Square.
In August, Commerz Real told the Belfast Telegraph: “We have seen House of Fraser performing very well in Victoria Square and would like to continue this co-operation.”
HIGH street tycoon Mike Ashley has called for a new tax on online retailers as part of a radical change he says is needed to save the high street.
Appearing before MPS, the Sports Direct founder said any retailer that makes more than 20% of its sales online should be subject to an additional tax.
He said this would encourage businesses like Sports Direct to open more stores rather than increasingly shifting to digital sales channels.
“It’s not House of Fraser’s fault, it’s not Marks & Spencer’s fault, it’s not Debenhams fault the high street is dying,” Mr Ashley said.
“The internet is killing the high street.”
The businessman, who has expanded his high street empire this year with the acquisitions of House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, warned most high streets will not survive until 2030.
He said: “I want to make it crystal clear: the mainstream high street as we think about it today — not the Oxford Streets and the Westfields — are already dead. They can’t survive.”
He later said: “Outside of London it’s going to be a ghost town.”
Mr Ashley also suggested local government should offer free parking in town centres and reform business rates.
Quizzed by members of the Housing and Local Government Select Committee on the future of House of Fraser, Mr Ashley said nobody would be able to keep all 59 of the department store’s branches open “except God”.
He also hinted a long-suggested tie-up between Debenhams and House of Fraser could still be on the cards.
“I told them to work together,” he said. “They should work together.”