TWO big-name retailers, one believed to be Marks & Spencer, have held meetings with council officials in the last fortnight, with a view to opening in the city.
The man charged with reviving Limerick’s economic fortunes Tom Enright confirmed discussions are ongoing with two ‘tier one’, or market leader retailers - and bosses of other shops presently in the city are looking to expand into larger urban outlets.
A new economic plan, due out this side of Christmas, is to identify a suitable site for a new retailer to move into, with the Opera Centre site and derelict lands near Arthur’s Quay front-runners.
Mr Enright - who was appointed the economic development director for Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council last week - has also said he wants to see a new public space in the city centre, away from the traffic, possibly by the river.
Limerick is one of the few areas in Britain and Ireland where Marks & Spencer does not have a presence. Many feel that if it did open in the centre, it would revive the area’s ailing fortunes.
“A meeting was held last week, with what would have been a retailer. To bring a major retailer into the city centre is important. It is not the solution by any means, but it is important to give confidence back to he city and help the smaller retailers,” Mr Enright said.
The former county planning chief added: “There are retailers which would look at expanding too, if suitable premises can be found for them.”
As for locations, he said the new economic blueprint for the city would identify a suitable site for a big retailer.
As well as the Opera Centre site, he said: “There is also the whole Arthur’s Quay area. It is underdeveloped. The old Dunnes building on Sarsfield Street has also been empty the last few years. We need to encourage development there which would bring people into the city.”
Mr Enright - who wants to work with the Enterprise Boards and the third level institutions to revitalise the city - also wants to bring in office developments.
He also emphasised the need to focus on the needs of all the county, with development of strategic sites to bring jobs in.