Marks & Spencer considering move to €250m centre in Limerick

Marks & Spencer could be moving to more than one location in Limerick in two years time.

Marks & Spencer could be moving to more than one location in Limerick in two years time.

Rooney Auctioneers on O'Connell Street, Limerick, are currently in discussions with the British chain regarding acquiring an outlet in the €250m Opera Centre.

Auctioneer Pat Kearney said: "I think they may want a presence in both locations. They could have clothing in one store and food in the other."

Jenny Mulholland, head of property planning for Ireland with Marks & Spencer, has confirmed their intentions to have a second outlet in Limerick and said having an outlet in the city centre "is definitely on our strategy".

"We have always been very interested in having a centre in Limerick city, even if it is just a food outlet. The city is very vibrant and we are keen to be a part of the retail environment there as well. We're looking at a number of locations in the city," said Ms Mulholland.

Marks & Spencer have already confirmed their intentions to open a major outlet at the Crescent Shopping Centre in Raheen, Limerick, pending planning permission from Limerick County Council.

The flagship store in Raheen, which will be the biggest in the west of the country, will include a wide range of fashion, home and furniture products, a food hall, café and a deli bar.

Mr Kearney confirmed that Brown Thomas have also been approached about moving from their store on O'Connell Street to the Opera Centre, but said "nothing positive has happened on that front yet".

Despite a number of media reports stating that work is to begin on the massive retail centre in January, Pat Keogh, who is involved in the development of the Opera Centre, has dismissed these suggestions.

Rather, conservation work will be carried out on four Georgian buildings on Rutland Street, which An Bord Pleanála ruled to conserve.

Mr Keogh said as a number of other buildings have come into their possession since the application was granted, they will be going back to City Hall with further amendments to their application.

One such building is the offices of the Limerick Post, which is a protected structure.

Mr Keogh said the full plans for the future of the Opera Centre will be tied down in the New Year, and said plans to include The Granary building on Michael Street into their development is "not certain and not conclusive".

Dick Tobin, senior planner with Limerick City Council, said they have received compliances in relation to the planning permission that was granted by An Bord Pleanála earlier this year.

However, he said he has not been made aware of any new plans to alter the application, to include The Granary, which houses the nightclub, Trinity Rooms, the City Library and City Enterprise Board, among other offices.

"I haven't heard anything formally yet. As tenants we would have to be informed even before the planners would be informed," said Mr Tobin.

When built, the Opera Centre will be the largest commercial development in the Mid-West and is expected to create in excess of 1,000 jobs.

Belfast businessman Suneil Sharma sold on his interests in the Opera Centre to a consortium of investors this May for an undisclosed sum.

Kerry property tycoon Jerry O'Reilly has been confirmed as one of the three new investors.

Mr O'Reilly also owns The Granary building in Limerick, which is a protected structure.

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