Primark reopening creates party atmosphere in Belfast – The Irish Times

Primark staff formed a noisy guard of honor as they welcomed eager shoppers to their Belfast store four years after a devastating fire tore through the historic building.

Bargain hunters began queuing outside the Bank’s iconic buildings in the city center in the early hours of Tuesday ahead of the long-awaited reopening of the retail institution which was destroyed during the 2018 fire.

A festive atmosphere greeted them as the doors opened shortly before 10am following a four-year, £100million restoration to return the listed building to its former glory.

Samuel Hamilton, from Belfast, was first in line and drove between queues of shop assistants on his mobility scooter.

“I’m glad to see him again,” he said.

“When it burned down, I was depressed. I missed going there and looking around, and the staff were always nice and polite.

Younger sisters Jane and Brianna Robertson were also among the first customers to enter the renovated store.

Jane, 13, and Brianna, 10, started queuing at 5:15 a.m.

The siblings got up at 4 a.m. and made the hour-long journey from Magherafelt with their parents.

Jane said: “We wanted to come for the atmosphere, the clothes and the brand new things, like the Disney cafe and the nail bar. We are going to get makeup, nails and new clothes.

Store manager Elizabeth McCalmont, who has worked for Primark for almost 30 years, said she had dreamed of the day the store would reopen.

“Four years ago we were all devastated by the fire and since then I have dreamed of seeing this day come,” she said.

“The excitement was definitely felt here this morning.

“Primark has been at the heart of the Belfast community for many years and I am proud to finally be able to say that we are reopening the Primark Bank Buildings store.”

Belfast Lord Mayor Tina Black attended the dedication ceremony on Tuesday morning as the doors reopened to the public.

“Tragically, the 2018 fire saw the heart ripped from our downtown, and the emotions people felt, they were so strong because this place, this building, this store, it means so much,” he said. she declared.

“Today we celebrate the successful completion of this major restoration project, saving one of our most beautiful and iconic buildings.”

In the years since the accidental fire, the building’s red sandstone facade has been obscured by scaffolding and yellow containers, which have been gradually removed in recent months as work neared completion.

The redevelopment undertaken by the retail giant included demolition and reconstruction.

The new store includes 88,200 square feet of retail space, a Disney-themed cafe and immersive experience, and a new nail and beauty studio.

Primark has created nearly 300 jobs with the reopening.

The renovation involved hundreds of craftsmen and tradesmen, including more than 40 expert stonemasons from the UK and Ireland who were commissioned to cut new stone and repair existing stone as part of the restoration .

The stone and marble for the new facade of the building came from quarries located in Finland, Scotland and Portugal, the same quarries from which the materials for the original structure came from in the 18th century.

Jacqui Byers, Regional Director for Primark in Northern Ireland, said: “Today is a big celebration, not just for Primark, but for all of Belfast after years of hard work to recover and rebuild the Bank’s buildings.

“It’s fantastic to have reached this day and returned home to Belfast, bringing our colleagues together under one roof with a bigger and better store than ever before.

“As we finally reopen, we would like to once again thank our colleagues, our customers, the business community and the wider City of Belfast for their continued support over the past four years.

“The restoration of the Bank buildings has been a passionate project for Primark, carried out in partnership with the City of Belfast and our amazing team of craftsmen and tradesmen – it has been a true team effort.

“It’s a proud moment for us, and it’s a testament to every individual involved that we welcome buyers back today.” -PENNSYLVANIA

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