LIMERICK City Council has not given up hope of bringing Marks & Spencer into the city area.
But if it cannot attract this British fashion and food chain, it is hoping to bring another department store into the urban area in the shape of John Lewis.
Since it was confirmed that Marks & Spencer had signed a ‘heads of agreement’ to move into the former Parkway Valley site, the City Council’s top brass have been redoubling their efforts to find another big retailer.
And at a traders meeting on Monday, which 100 people attended, it was revealed that John Lewis has been targeted. The department store has 43 outlets in cities across Britain - but its plans to open its first Irish store in Dublin remain on hold due to the economic crisis.
Although no negotiations have yet taken place, Helen O’Donnell, chairperson of the Limerick City Business Association, and a key player in Limerick City’s ‘Town Team’ said the possibility of John Lewis has been mooted in council circles. “In the (Limerick 2030) plan, there are large boxes, and large spaces available for the anchor. We would hope Marks & Spencer come. But if they don’t, there are other options in terms of international shops of a huge size, who might see Limerick as being appropriate.”
Of Marks & Spencer, she said: “It is not signed. That store is not opened yet, so we have not given up on that.”
But she said there is a huge demand for a big retailer to anchor the city centre, and complement the independent traders.
“People want a high street. People come into Limerick city and ask: where is the high street? Where are the likes of Top Shop? People want independents, but they also want big chains. We need to have what people expect from a city our size,” she added.
Tom Enright, Limerick City Council’s economic manager added: “We are looking to retailers which do not have a presence in the Limerick area.”
Meanwhile, Retail Excellence Ireland has said that music retailer Golden Discs are interested in taking over HMV’s old unit in Cruises Street. The Dublin-headquartered firm had a branch in the Jetland SC until three years ago.