Stores ‘committed’ to Sprucefield sites

John Lewis
John Lewis

TWO major retailers have once again emphasised their commitment to developing new stores at Sprucefield.

Following comments from the Environment Minister, Alex Atwood, in recent weeks, that only ‘bulky goods’ could be sold at Sprucefield, uncertainty has hung over the future development of the regional shopping centre.

However, both John Lewis and Next have both insisted they remain completely committed to the development of their new stores at Sprucefield.

A spokesperson for John Lewis said they were considering the Ministers’ comments.

He continued by stressing that the national retailer was still convinced that Sprucefield was the only viable option for their first store in Northern Ireland.

“We remain fully committed to opening a full-line department store at Sprucefield,” said the spokesperson.

“Over the last nine years our consistent and clear position has been that the only suitable location for a John Lewis department store in Northern Ireland is at Sprucefield.”

A spokesperson for Next, which is hoping to redevelop the former MFI store at Sprucefield, also reiterated the company’s commitment.

“Next are very disappointed with the delays, but remain committed to its investment at Sprucefield Retail Park and plans involve rationalisation of existing and approved floor space of the former MFI,” he said.

“Next hopes to open its store by Summer 2013, creating 140 additional jobs in the Lisburn area in the process. The new store will be in addition to Next’s portfolio of stores in the Lisburn area with stores in Lisburn city centre, Sprucefield Home and Craigavon Rushmere continuing to trade as normal.

“This is all part of Next’s continuing programme of investment and expansion in Northern Ireland. Next now has over 20 stores in Northern Ireland, employing over 1600 people,” he concluded.