Province to benefit from M&S investment

Northern Ireland is to receive a jobs boost following the news that Marks & Spencer is to overhaul three of its major outlets in the province.

It is thought that the restructuring plan will concentrate on the company’s branches in Belfast, Derry and Bangor, and will involve the creation of up to 100 new jobs. The Belfast city centre outlet will be received a £1.5 million facelift, while the Bangor branch is to see a further £13.5 million invested in further development in the region.

The news was announced on the same day as the retailer revealed a surprise rise in profits for the first half of the financial year. The beleaguered retail store published profit figures of £220 million, a figure much higher than initially predicted on average by industry analysts. The news builds on an earlier statement by M&S of a rise in sales of 2.8 per cent.

M&S Chairman Luc Vandevelde said that the figures demonstrated “good progress” with the recovery plan, and that M&S had plans to upgrade at least 100 of the stores by the end of 2001.

He said: "I am encouraged by the progress we have made and am confident that the strength of the M&S, together with the value and quality of our improved offer, give us a firm base on which to build."

Newly appointed Divisional Executive for Northern Ireland, Graham Sorah, added: “Having recently completed 34 years of trading in Northern Ireland, Marks & Spencer’s is looking forward to providing even greater shopping choice for consumers here.” (CL)

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