TOP Irish bookseller and stationers Eason is set to ink a deal on its new premises in the heart of Cork city.
And, in a boost both for the city’s retail lineage and, indeed, for bookselling, it’s staying on in the very centre of St Patrick’s Street, helping to create a strong retail cluster for booklovers.
Eason is securing its new footprint on the ground floor of the historic former Victoria Hotel, No 36, right next to the Penneys/Primark building, itself due a multi-million euro expansion.
Eason is preparing to relocate by Spring to the middle of St Patrick’s Street by Cook Street, opposite Opera Lane, its staff were told this week.
Eason is in final negotiations to take the entire reconfigured ground floor of c 5,000 sq ft in the 1810-built building from landlord Joe Donnelly, who is actively upgrading having secured the full building five years ago after it ceased trading as a hotel on its upper levels.
It means that Eason will be close to rival Waterstones, and also to the premises in between them now at 83-83 St Patrick’s Street, where it located Eason subsidiary and specialist bookseller Dubray Books (bought just before the pandemic struck). Dubray Books opened over several floors in a total 5,000 sq ft letting just prior to Christmas 2021, said to be trading very successfully.
Also closeby is another book and magazine retailer, Porters, at No 42.
Eason signalled its move from its decades’-long premises on 113-115 St Patrick’s Street exactly two years ago when it sold that 22,000 sq ft property to Sports Direct International owner Mike Ashley for a reported €6.5m, with SDI lining up its mens’ outfitters brand Flannels to occupy the building.
The hunt for a new Eason store is now at end-game in lease negotiations: today it told the Irish Examiner that it “continues to advance its plans to open up a new state-of-the-art store in Cork city centre. While we cannot comment on discussions we are having with our people or third-parties as we advance these plans, we look forward to announcing a new location soon and officially launching our new store with customers.”
Agents Bannon acted for Eason, and Savills Cork for the landlord Joe Donnelly/RESAM. Savills’ Peter O’Merars said the fact a deal was being done in such a landmark building “is a real vote of confidence in the future of retailing in Cork City Centre." Savillls also acted to locate Dubray Books to the street in 2021.
Eason had bought their mid-1900s building at 113-115 St Patrick’s Street in 1986 from the ESB, after it moved to Academy Street.
The relocation deal will secure jobs: there were 45 Eason staff at 113-155 St Patrick’s Street at the time of the property sale. The fact it is staying in an even stronger profile and central setting on ‘Pana’ in local parlance will be widely welcomed, both for the vitality of a city centre physical booksellers store and for taking up such a prime position on the street as it repositions itself for retail and economic recovery and store user reshaping. Eason has other stores in Douglas, Mallow, Mahon Point, Wilton and Ballincollig.
Meanwhile, sources say other property retail deals are progressing for this coming year at the Savoy and on Opera Lane, with the largest question mark of all still hanging over the future of the very large Debenhams/ex-Roches Stores landmark building, owned by members of the Roche family. Property watchers describe it as “still very much the elephant in the room”.
The Victoria Hotel building, originally the Royal Victoria Hotel, has gone through many changes with retail taking over its ground floor from the 1980s, and occupiers since at ground level have included Burgerland, Dayville Icecream, Pizzaland, Clinton Cards and, more recently, Monsoon and Monsoon Accessorise.
The Victoria Hotel’s upper floors, meanwhile, had traded for several decades post-break-up as a 33-bed hotel, Gay Future Bar and Cocos nightclub.
Eason’s deal is only for the 5,000 sq ft at ground only, to a redesign by Grafton Architects, with the 1980s-added central steep stairs on St Patrick’s Street now removed to open up the retail area more fully.
Access to the upper floors now is via Cook Street, with fire exit egress on Marlboro Street.
It’s understood that plans by the building’s owner Joe Donnelly to put apartments overhead, for one of the rare chances to have ‘living over the shop’ in quality units, have run into fire regulation issues.
- Details: Savills 021-4271371, Bannon 01-6477900