Centre manager Chris Nelmes reveals why the centre has plenty to celebrate this Christmas as he reports an impressive 25 per cent growth in both footfall and sales
Speaking after The Boulevard’s relaunch in March following the purchase of the centre by the Lotus Group in April 2016, centre manager Chris Nelmes has revealed Banbridge centre, The Boulevard, has since gone ‘‘from strength to strength’’, having recently enjoyed a ‘‘tremendous summer.’’
The retail park, which was formerly known as The Outlet, is in the middle of a £7m revamp under the ownership, which now boasts almost 60 world-renowned brands including world renowned brand GUESS which opened on Friday, December 14.
‘‘I’m not one to shout about it, but we had a great summer and it has just continued all the way through and here we are now at Christmas,’’ Chris exclaims.
‘‘We’re seeing 25 per cent growth in both footfall and sales which is just incredible in this regional climate.’’
And outgoing family man Chris, who has recently returned from a prestigious awards ceremony in London where The Boulevard scooped a Revo Gold Award for its recent redevelopment and rebrand, puts the success ‘‘fundamentally’’ down to the exciting new brands coming in which includes global fashion line GUESS, in addition to the The Boulevard’s recent investment and rebranding: ‘‘Not forgetting the on-site activities that we do to generate the theatre in the mall for families,’’ he adds.
‘‘We’ve really enhanced the landscaping, and the installation of the rooftop to the scheme has made such an incredible difference.
‘‘Last weekend the heavens opened, and I saw people looking up and wondering why they weren’t being soaked - they hadn’t realised the roof was there to protect them!
‘‘It is such an important addition, a much needed benefit especially for families with young children.
‘‘It means you can sit outside, even when it is pouring with rain, and just enjoy the festive lights and sparkling colours of Christmas.
‘‘The display in itself is an excuse to come down and pay a visit in a unique shopping experience.’’
With new names including Adidas, Sketchers and Asics in addition to popular brands including Nike and more, Chris believes they are one of the top destinations in the Province for sports-wear.
‘‘Everyone is much more health-conscious and aware of how importance fitness is now, plus athleisure is such a big fashion trend.
‘‘The sports shops will be even more popular come January too as everyone comes into the New Year,’’ Chris says.
‘‘Adidas is the only outlet Adidas shop in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which is huge for us.
‘‘They have the latest shop-fit and it is just fantastic what they have done here,’’ he adds.
In yet more exciting news, to add to the top fashion brands already at The Boulevard, which include the likes of Jack Wills and Kurt Geiger, prolific American fashion brand GUESS has officially arrived at The Boulevard, having opened its doors to hundreds of excited shoppers from 10am on Friday, December 14, who queued alongside Cool FM’s Melissa Riddell in a bid to be one of the lucky number of customers to receive free GUESS tote bags with their purchases.
‘‘Their shop is amazing,’’ Chris revealed the day before the much-anticipated opening. ‘‘It is obviously currently the only outlet shop GUESS has here, and all of their team have been over getting everything merchandised and ready for the big opening. It is extremely exciting for us!’’
Known worldwide for its innovative denim collection, eye-catching statement handbags and stylish lines for men, women and children, the high-end American clothing brand and retailer adds to the already dazzling array of fashion retailers at The Boulevard, which offers ‘a day out for the whole family’ with an abundance of shops, cafes and eateries.
And with yet more exciting brands set to come in the immediate future, two new restaurants are also underway and look set to open before Easter.
But for now, Chris says the centre is in full swing for Christmas, with extended opening hours running from now until December 21 from 10 am until 9pm as well as free parking all-year round.
‘‘We cater for everybody, we have the facilities to welcome all ages and disabilities and families in a unique shopping environment.’’
The Boulevard also offers a ‘BExclusive’ card, which Chris reveals ‘‘offers more discounts on top of the discounts’’ from up to 10 to 30 per cent.
In addition to the abundance of hugely popular brands at The Boulevard, the Banbridge centre also pays homage to local crafts, with the next Artisans at The Boulevard taking place Saturday, December 22 and Sunday, December 23 with a fantastic selection of local design-makers selling beautiful artisan crafts.
In the run up to Christmas, Santa will be at The Boulevard for a few extra hours with the Grotto opening from 3.30pm – 7.30pm from December 17 – 21, with weekend times (Saturday 11am - 4pm and Sunday 1pm - 5pm) and not forgetting Christmas Eve (12pm-4pm).
‘‘Santa’s Grotto has been hugely popular, I think it is one of the best around,’’ Chris enthuses.
‘‘For £5 you also get a free gift and we donate a majority of the money to Action Cancer, which we are supporting this year - we can’t wait to hand them over a cheque on Christmas Eve with the donations that have come through the door.’’
The Boulevard also recently held a Quiet Hour for those with Autism and special needs to visit Mr Claus himself without large crowds and too much noise, which was such a success Chris reveals they may announce an extra date.
The Boulevard is also catering for any four-legged friends who may wish to visit Santa this year, having had a hugely successful event with man’s best friend earlier this month.
‘‘Santa Paws returns due to extremely popular demand on December 17 from 3.30pm – 4.30pm; we even have a waiting list now due to the popularity!
‘‘They get a little goody bag, pose for a picture and a letter from Santa.
‘‘I can’t believe how popular it has been,’’ laughs Chris. ‘‘Pets are part of the family after all,’’ he enthuses, adding that the outside centre area welcomes well-behaved pets on leads all year-round.
‘‘We have doggy stations throughout The Boulevard complete with water to make sure our four-legged visitors stay hydrated.
‘‘We love to see them popping up for a visit!’’
- Booking for Santa Paws is essential, contact: 028 4062 5151 or visit The Boulevard on Facebook to book.
''It's all go''
‘‘We’ve just got so much going on here at The Boulevard,’’ Chris adds. ‘‘It has been absolutely fantastic. It is all go - and of course we’ll be open for those Boxing Day sales from 10am on Wednesday, December 26!’’
The Boulevard is located on the A1 road that links Belfast and Dublin, just outside Banbridge, and has 1500 free car and coach parking spaces available on site and late-night shopping until 9pm every weeknight until December 21.
Visit: the-boulevard.co.uk online for further information, including the What’s On section for news and updates on all events.
You can also stay up to date with The Boulevard on social media, including Facebook at: facebook.com/theboulevardbanbridge and Twitter: @theboulevardni.