LIMERICK city centre has undergone mixed fortunes this week as new businesses bring life to empty retail units, while two landmark retailers closed their doors for good.The positives for city centre retail include the opening of Ecco, as the Danish shoe manufacturer took over an empty unit on the junction of Thomas Street/Augustinian Lane, creating ten new jobs.
The prominent vacant unit on the corner of Cruises Street and O’Connell Street, which formerly housed HMV, will also finally be occupied again since the music chain closed down the branch in January 2013.
MBCC Foods Ireland, owners of the ubiquitous Costa Coffee brand in Ireland, has secured Council permission to open a café on the ground and first floors of the building.
CompuB, the sole stockist of Apple Computers in Limerick, are also set to expand and will be moving into a vacant unit on O’Connell Street, which formerly housed Kiely’s electrical.
Limerick Chamber president Cathal Treacy told the Limerick Post: “We are delighted to see new and diverse retail outlets opening in the city. The economic downturn had a massive impact on the retail sector. But it’s now clear the city is experiencing some notable positive changes.
“The Limerick 2030 masterplan, combined with reduced commercial rates, national and international exposure via Limerick City of Culture, increased investment and tangible deliverables from the work of [email protected] (Limerick City Business Association), is starting to make an impact on the revitalisation of our city.”
However, amid the apparent city centre revival taking place in recent weeks, long-established businesses such as Helene Modes boutique on Roches Street and Indian restaurant Copper and Spice’s Cornmarket branch have been forced to close.
Helene Modes was a Limerick institution, having been in business for more than 50 years.
The Copper and Spice restaurant in Cornmarket operated for 12 years; its Annacotty branch will continue trading as usual.
Michael Gleeson, who has been selling shoes in Limerick city centre for 50 years, says more can be done to support businesses.
“We need to encourage people to come back into town. If there was free parking until 11am, for instance, people could drop their children to school and then come in to do a bit of shopping. And we don’t need loading bays to be closed off until 5pm. Loading is done before twelve o’clock – if we let people park in them after twelve that would free up 300 spaces in the city centre,” he explained.
Mr Gleeson added that Limerick needs “good competition, good retail outlets and we need to make the right decisions”.