Asda has gained planning permission for four development sites for new stores in Northern Ireland as it gets under way with growth plans for the province.
Three of these will replace existing Safeway stores, in Ballyclare, Enniskillen and Strabane, which the Leeds-based retailer bought from Morrisons in June.
The other site relates to a 65,000 sq ft development at the former Howden Sirocco works overlooking the river Lagan in east Belfast. This supermarket will bring Asda’s number of stores in Belfast to three, adding to its two existing Safeway stores in the west and north of the city.
An Asda spokeswoman said there was no time frame yet for the stores to be built.
Asda’s main focus was making sure that the 12 existing stores would be open in time for Christmas. Most of the Safeway stores in the province are sized between 20,000 and 30,000 sq ft. This is considerably smaller than Asda’s average UK mainland outlet.After the announcement of the £73.6m deal in June, then trading and marketing director Angela Spindler acknowledged that these floorspaces were not ideal for the multiple.
However, she said that Asda would use its recent experience with smaller format stores in England, including its new small format store at Pembroke Dock, to still deliver its full range of goods to customers in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, work on a new 50,000 sq ft Curley’s store at the Kennedy centre in west Belfast has been postponed until the end of the year because of planning delays.
The store will be in direct competition with Asda.
Ronan Hegarty