THE INVESTMENT of over €1.5m in the Brown Thomas store in Limerick shows the confidence the brand has in the rising consumer power in the city, its manager has said.
Liam Dwan said the investment, which is one of the most significant in recent years, should also signal to other major companies the value of doing business in the city centre, which is continuing to fight against out-of-town shopping.
“It’s a very large investment and we are very proud and thrilled that the company has shown this confidence in us. It was not done lightly – they know they will see a return on their investment,” Mr Dwan told the Limerick Leader.
“This is all part of driving footfall in the city centre. It shows that there is life in the city and that it’s worth investing in. We want to combat this perception of ‘What’s in the city?’ There’s a lot, and there’s great vitality. We’re very upbeat about what the future holds,” he said.
He continued: “We have seen consistent growth over the past three to four years, and that has given the company the confidence to invest in Limerick. It’s a win-win situation. The return per square foot will be much greater now than it was here-to-fore.”
With a decision about the €100m Horizon Mall on the Dublin Road looming, and the threats it could pose to the city if it goes ahead, Mr Dwan said they just “want what’s best for the city. We can’t control what’s going to happen with the Horizon Mall. But we have loads of positives in the city, and I think our year as the City of Culture had a bigger bearing on us than we might realise. We have to control our own destinies in the city, and we’re putting our money where our mouth is.”
The former Pamela Scotts unit at the corner of Bedford Row and Henry Street, encompassing 9,000 sq ft, may also be occupied by a major company before Christmas. “The more options there are in the city the better,” he adds. “It bodes well for all of us.”
The €1.5m spend refers specifically to the major overhaul of the beauty hall on the ground floor, which has now attracted further major beauty brands such as Nars and Giorgio Armani, in addition to their already stellar line-up of cosmetics. The Charlotte Tilbury brand will also be welcomed in house at the end of January.
The redesigned beauty hall is “the latest spec and is a carbon copy of the Dublin store. It’s much freer, and gives the customer a lot more space.”
Furthermore, the rest of the store, over four floors, in undergoing a redesign, with the addition of major fashion brands including Victoria Beckham, Roland Mouret, and Cos, which is due to open at the end of this month.
The redevelopment comes in time for their busiest period, the Christmas season, and Mr Dwan said the bulk of their trade will be done in the next two months, when they expect footfall to increase by 10% on last year’s figures.
To this end, some 70 new staff have been employed, the majority part-time up until the end of January after the sales, bringing their total employment figure to some 350.
The lingerie department has now moved up to the top floor, while Cos will occupy their former space, which will soon to be opened up to look out onto Thomas Street.
Some 20 people alone will be employed by Cos.
The store will also soon be employing a beauty stylist to aid customers and become an ambassador for the store, rather than any particular brand. None exists in their Cork or Galway branches, and he notes Limerick will be the first to match Dublin within the next month.
Beauty treatment rooms under Estee Lauder are also a new addition, and the nail bar has also moved upstairs.