AFTER a challenging few years, retail in the Cork City suburb of Douglas is set for a late-summer lift following confirmation that Aldi’s newest store is poised for a July/August opening.
It’s the second major commercial boost for the village in recent months following the reopening last November of Douglas Village Shopping Centre, which had been closed for more than a year, following a devastating fire.
Along with the arrival of Aldi, Douglas will also gain a new café on the Aldi site, as letting agents Cushman & Wakefield have agreed a deal with a franchise operation.
While agent Séamus Costello was not in a position to reveal the identity of the café tenant, he said it will represent “a great offering for Douglas”.
“It’s a bit different, it’s not your bog-standard café,” he said.
The new 1,000 sq m (10,764 sq ft) Aldi store, which will create up to 30 permanent jobs, has been built in line with the retailer’s Project Fresh design and will be powered 100% by green electricity.
Colin Breslin, Aldi regional managing director, said they were hoping to open “in July or August, subject to government restrictions regarding commercial construction”.
“The new state-of-the-art store will create 30 permanent jobs once opened and up to 60 construction jobs during the building phase,” Mr Breslin said.
He said the Project Fresh layout “offers a much larger and more prominent fresh food offering at the front of the store, hi-spec fixtures and fittings, and new signage that provide a more efficient and hassle-free shopping experience”.
Mr Breslin said there would be “ample free parking for customers at the environmentally friendly store”.
MMD Construction is the main contractor. It oversaw the demolition of the cinema complex, CinemaWorld, to make way for the new Aldi. CinemaWorld had traded in Douglas since 1994.
As part of the development, the main vehicular entrance to the former CinemaWorld carpark has been closed off, although there will be pedestrian linkages to the main road and from Main St, Douglas, via the laneway running up the side of Permanent TSB.
Vehicular access will be via a new access road to the rear of the site, near McDonald's.
While the original plan was to include three additional separate smaller retail units at the Aldi Douglas site, planning was granted to permit the merging of two units. This 2,100 sq ft space will accommodate the café, which will also have outdoor seating, facing west.
Mr Costello said the remaining 1,023 sq ft (95 sq m) unit is up for grabs and that while letting plans have been pushed back to allow for the completion of Aldi, which was delayed by pandemic restrictions, inquiries are plentiful.
“We are open to ideas, as long as whatever comes in is complimentary to Aldi,” he said.
He said the units have “a high-profile position in the heart of Douglas, with strong visibility”. Moreover, they represent “an excellent opportunity to trade alongside Aldi in a new purpose-built scheme with on-site customer parking”.
The annual rent for the last remaining unit is €30,000pa. Each unit will have own-door access.
The arrival of Aldi in Douglas will significantly boost the offering to shoppers, who already have an array of retail available at Douglas Village Shopping Centre, where Tesco and Marks & Spencer are the anchor tenants, as well as Douglas Court Shopping Centre, where Dunnes Stores is the anchor tenant. In fact the discount store is perfectly positioned between these two major commercial developments to take maximum advantage of passing footfall.
Douglas retail has been hard hit in recent years, with the forced closure of Tesco and Marks & Spencer, as well as more than 40 additional small retail units at Douglas Village Shopping Centre, following the August 2019 fire. The closure resulted in the loss of 1,000 car-parking spaces.
Its reopening was delayed by the pandemic as the construction sector was hit by lockdowns, but the main anchor tenants, along with the butcher shop, pharmacy, bank, and carpark, are back in business since before Christmas. However, “non-essential retail” such as Tk Maxx, remains closed at the centre, under the current lockdown.
The centre library — extensively damaged in the fire and subsequently extensively renovated — opened briefly before Christmas, but is currently back in lockdown.
Douglas' Main St itself was badly affected by the closure of the shopping centre and empty units were a sign of the times, but some of those units have since been rented, with just two or three currently unoccupied.
The pencilling in of a date for the opening of Aldi in Douglas — pandemic permitting — comes on the heels of news last week that a planning application is about to be lodged for another Aldi supermarket and residential development on Skehard Rd, Blackrock.
It will form part of a mixed-use scheme that will feature 28 residential units and a café. The site will be developed by developers Lyonshall and located next to Scally's SuperValu near the junction with Church Rd.
This store will be quite close to the existing Aldi supermarket at Blackrock Hall. Aldi already operates 23 stores in Cork. The discount retailer also recently received planning permission for a new store in Clonakilty, which is expected to open at the end of 2022.
- For more information on the remaining available unit at the Aldi site in Douglas, contact Séamus Costello, Cushman & Wakefield on 021 4648506 or Philip Horgan.