One of Northern Ireland’s retail and leisure destinations will reopen with a bang today (Friday 30th April) after four months of closure, welcoming two new tenants to the scheme, representing a total investment of £120k.
The two leasing deals, which take a combined 6,500 Sq ft of retail space, are creating 15 jobs, and signal a positive bounce back for the challenged retail and leisure sector following a year of lockdown closures. They are indicative of a growing sense of virtual fatigue among consumers and a desire for fresh, new, physical experiences.
For fitness fans, the 4,733 Sq ft martial arts fitness club, Heat MMA will offer everything from a fully equipped gym, 1-2-1 personal training and a packed schedule of classes for both adults and children. The family run business has been in operation since 2012 but has seen demand for its particular style of coaching and training rise in recent years, driven further by a year of lockdown and home training.
With 150 members currently, the expectation is for a 20% rise in membership – with day passes, pay-as-you-go classes and monthly memberships available to suit all requirements.
Local café brand, Synge & Byrne will open its 15th store at The Junction later this month, adding to the scheme’s already strong roster of food & beverage outlets and flying the flag for local produce.
Customers to the newly fitted out 1,724 Sq ft establishment will benefit from the brand’s fresh approach to traditional favourites including artisan coffee & cakes, quiches and pies, fresh sandwiches, and a wide range of plant-based options – all sourced from local suppliers such as Yellow Door, Java Republic or fresh from the Synge & Byrne bakery.
Chris Flynn, Centre Director at The Junction, said: “After months of closure, opening with two new store experiences is the perfect way to welcome our loyal customers back to The Junction and hopefully encourage some new faces to the scheme. The arrival of Heat MMA complements our existing sports credentials perfectly with anchor tenants Nike and Asics and Synge & Byrne is a fantastic addition offering the very best of local produce – something we know is top of mind with our customers who have been enjoying our Urban Market on-site during lockdown. We also know consumers are longing for the physical experience of a day out shopping mixed with other leisure pursuits such as going to the gym, eating out and meeting friends and The Junction is the ideal destination to do this.”
Craig Stewart, Senior Asset Manager at Lotus Property, owners of The Junction, said: “We’re encouraged by these two new leasing deals, which were completed as we awaited the Executive’s definitive dates for easing of lockdown restrictions. We know from last year’s reopening that the bounce back was strong as consumer demand to get out and about provided our tenants with the much-needed boost they needed after a tough few months. This lockdown period has arguably been the hardest so we’re expecting a significant level of footfall to the scheme. The fact we’re one of only a few fully outdoor shopping and leisure destinations means we can also welcome back the more cautious customer and ensure that all staff, tenants and customers feel comfortable to visit, stay longer and most importantly return, following a positive experience.
These latest developments are the first in a pipeline of positive leasing activity that’s happening at The Junction, so watch this space for more exciting news in the coming weeks and months.”