As the high street prepares for the roll out of the £100 gift card scheme from the Department for the Economy later this month, the management and letting agents for Buttercrane Shopping Centre, Newry are feeling optimistic about the future of bricks and mortar retail in the city.
Buttercrane Centre Management and Letting Agent, Lambert Smith Hampton say that as a result of multimillion pound programme of investment in the past 12 months, Buttercrane is now positioned to survive in the decades ahead, in the aftermath COVID closures during 2020/2021.
Peter Murray, Centre Manager at Buttercrane said:
“Just as the Covid pandemic was about to hit, Buttercrane had embarked on an 18-month development and investment plan for the centre. With two large vacant units and adjacent derelict properties on site, Buttercrane had the vision and commitment to undertake a major redevelopment of part of the 30-year-old centre.”
“This investment is a clear demonstration of faith in traditional high street bricks and mortar retail and it has delivered two new anchor stores in Sports Direct/USC and most recently Lidl.”
“This first phase occupation was a huge vote of confidence for bricks and mortar retail in the city to welcome a new high calibre tenant such as Sports Direct/USC opening in Buttercrane and generated some 65 new jobs.”
The Sports Direct/USC megastore opened in August 2020 and included a fashion, sports, gaming, and leisure offering with well-known brands Sports Direct, USC, Game and Belong all located within the two level 51,000 sq. ft superstore.
Despite the challenges faced during 2020, Buttercrane and LSH continued with their planned programme, welcoming Lidl to the scheme just last month when the value grocery brand relocated from Bagnall’s Castle, Newry to a 26,000 sq ft new build site, following a nine-month construction programme.
The new Newry Lidl opened to a queue of shoppers on 27th August 2021 and has since been trading very successfully, already exceeding initial targets.
The new style concept store is accessible from both Lidl’s external entrance on Bridge Street (100 dedicated car park spaces) and internally from the mall in Buttercrane Centre. Opening Monday to Sunday, customers can also shop early morning and late evenings when Buttercrane Centre is closed.
Lidl Buttercrane features an extensive range of great value fresh, grocery and off licence products spacious aisles as well as some concepts new to Lidl including a tea/coffee service area, freshly squeezed orange juice and a GRAB & GO section already proving popular with city centre workers.
To reflect the major improvements in Buttercrane, they commissioned a new corporate identity image, to reflect the Buttercrane more accurately for the 21st century. This new modern imagery can now be seen on the prominent roadside totem signs and throughout the centre scheme.
Criona Collins, Head of Retail Agency at Lambert Smith Hampton said:
“Buttercrane is a strategic site in the heart of Newry City and has been serving the people of South Down & South Armagh for over 30 years.”
“The multimillion-pound investment by Buttercrane and Lidl NI has transformed the entire scheme, opening up its outlook onto the Dublin Road and significantly regenerating the Bridge Street area of the city.”
“The demolition of several derelict buildings along Bridge Street has effectively created greater ‘see through’ to the shopping centre and the new building, car park and traditional stone wall have all added significantly to the street scape of Bridge Street. Evidence of associated regeneration of this area of Newry can already be witnessed with the refurbishment of the adjacent KFC outlet.”
“The aspiration would be to see more sympathetic development of properties in the adjacent areas of Newry. With more accessible pedestrian routes now available from Bridge Street into Lidl and Buttercrane, this side of Buttercrane Centre has become more approachable and connected with the local community.”
Welcoming the latest addition to the scheme, Peter said:
“I’m delighted Lidl is part of the Buttercrane family, offering shoppers an exciting new supermarket experience and complementing our offering of big-name brands including Primark, Dunnes Stores and Sports Direct/USC – all under one roof.”
“Alongside award-winning facilities and a continued commitment to high levels of customer service, Buttercrane is confident that the new additions to the centre which marks its 33rd birthday this year will secure its place at the heart of retail across the Greater Newry Area and beyond for the next three decades and more.”