INTENSIVE efforts are being made to finally bring Marks & Spencer to Limerick, with Limerick City Council now hoping it can woo the retail giant to the newly purchased Opera Centre site amid competition from the Parkway Valley project which could yet be scuppered by the County Council.
The City Council is actively pursuing high-end retailers – including Marks & Spencer – to occupy a major store in the Opera Centre site, which it acquired last week through State funds.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Jim Long, said the top UK chain will “inevitably come to Limerick”, but has the choice of three possible locations - the Opera Centre site, a redeveloped Arthur’s Quay shopping centre, or the Parkway Valley site on the Dublin Road.
“Marks & Spencer, by nature, will go where they get the best deal. It would be incorrect for me to say we don’t have them lined up.
“Not only would it be a coup for Limerick city, but it would be a coup for the whole region,” said the mayor.
Meanwhile, Belfast-based developer Suneil Sharma, who sold on his interests in the Opera Centre site, is now pushing to develop Parkway Valley. Limerick County Council is considering whether to extend the construction time allowed to complete the development, and a decision is due next month.
Mr Sharma told the Limerick Leader he was “delighted the council have acquired the site and wish them all the best.”
He said he is sure the local authority will do “the right thing for the city” when they draw up their development plan, while “looking forward” to the County Council’s decision on his latest venture.
Regarding Marks & Spencer’s long-stated intentions to open in Limerick, he said he is sure the chain will make a decision on what site to take “given all the information at their disposal and their own commercial criteria.”
He would not comment if he too has had talks with M&S.
*A full version of this story appeared in the Limerick Leader weekend edition