The property developer which bought a shopping centre in Antrim last year has announced its first major new tenant.
eneagles Ltd, whose directors include pharmacy boss Colin Johnston, said Lynas Food Outlet will open at Antrim’s Castle Mall in late autumn.
Work is due to start to restructure part of the mall so that the 8,500 sq ft store can open.
Mascott Construction is due to carry out the building work at the new outlet — which will be reached from Central Car Park — creating 30 construction jobs.
The Lynas family, who own Lynas Foodservice, have said they have ambitious expansion plans to reach 18 stores by 2024.
The new outpost will stock Lynas’ ‘frozen-for-freshness range’, which includes big-pack fresh chicken fillets, multipack bulk-value deals and Lynas’ own-brand butchery label, Causeway Prime.
Gary Mills, Lynas Foodservice chief operating officer, said: “We are thrilled to see work beginning in Castle Mall for our latest Lynas Food Outlet.
“Antrim is going through a huge regeneration and, with more investment in the town centre and additional family homes under construction, we see the potential in this catchment area and are delighted to not only bring our product range to the town, but also create additional jobs throughout the construction and retail operations.”
Pamela Minford, centre manager at Castle Mall, said she was pleased to see another retailer investing in the scheme.
“Twenty twenty-two has been a positive year for shaping retail and we have been on a growth trajectory since the transfer to the new owners in 2021.
“Lynas Food will reshape Castle Mall completely by opening it up onto Central Car Park and inviting customers to continue their shopping experience right through the centre.
“We have a strong local community in Antrim who want to see Castle Mall succeed and this is just the beginning of our regeneration strategy, with further exciting development plans to come soon.”
Investment in Castle Mall has also brought about the upsizing and relocation of health shop Holland & Barrett, as well as Specsavers and Card Factory. A new Vietnamese-style coffee shop has also opened, while pet store Furbies is set to open next month.
Billy Webb, the Alliance mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, said: “As a well-known brand in Northern Ireland, Lynas will undoubtedly be a big attraction for shoppers and will be key to the further development of this part of Antrim.
“The council working with the private sector has developed really ambitious plans for Antrim and looks forward to implementing these over the coming years.”
Castle Mall was bought over by UK property company Edinburgh House in 2010.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council granted planning permission for redevelopment at Castle Mall last year.
It’s one of a number of shopping destinations which have been bought over by NI-based developers in recent years. Ballymena’s Fairhill Shopping Centre was bought last year for an undisclosed sum by Magell, a company owned by the Walker family.
The retail site had gone on the market for offers from £10m in April, six years after it was bought by an investor for £46.5m.
Writing in the Belfast Top 100 Companies magazine today, Dr Claire Shaw of commercial property consultancy INPRIO said retail assets remained attractive to national buyers and NI-based investors.
The research analyst writes: “The challenges that have faced the retail sector in the last two decades are well documented.
“Nonetheless, retail investment is the mainstay of the Northern Irish commercial property market and, with the exception of last year, retail consistently accounts for the largest proportion of annual market share (approximately 56% over the past five years).”