Northern Ireland

Three stores close at Victoria Square, Belfast

Victoria Sq
Image caption A recent report said Victoria Square was attracting people from a wider area

Three shops are to close at Victoria Square in Belfast with the loss of 31 jobs.

Fourteen staff are being made redundant with the closure of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), another five jobs are going at Geox and 12 at Yogen Fruz.

Geox and GBK, both opened in 2008, while Yogen Fruz began trading in December 2010.

The centre said the closures were regrettable but not reflective of trading in the centre as a whole.

"Victoria Square continues to attract interest and investment from national and international brands due to the on-going success of our diverse retail and leisure offering," said centre manager Hugh Black.

"Up until Gourmet Burger Kitchen took the regrettable decision to close its restaurant in Victoria Square this week, our restaurant units were fully let - their situation is not reflective of the experience of our other restaurant tenants."

Mr Black said a number of new retailers and restaurants had recently opened or were preparing to in the centre.

A retail report by Colliers International last August said the gap was getting bigger between high-end shopping centres in Belfast and others outside the city centre.

It found spending on Northern Ireland's high streets and shopping centres had been affected by Victoria Square in Belfast.

The report said consumers wanted a shopping experience that combined retail and leisure.

It said Victoria Square was attracting people from a wider area and its leisure facilities meant customers stayed longer and spent more.

Colliers International also found bigger department store-anchored centres in Northern Ireland, such as Foyleside in Derry and Rushmere in Craigavon, were faring reasonably, as were neighbourhood convenience stores.

It said this was demonstrated by the continued expansion of brands such as Spar, Centra and Tesco Express.

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