Forestside Shopping Centre
Forestside Shopping Centre is located in Newtownbreda in the southern suburbs of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The first phase of the centre, the 39,000 square feet (3,600 m 2) Sainsbury's store, opened in March 1997. The popularity of the centre has exceeded expectations with traffic congestion a problem in peak trading seasons. Sainsbury's was obliged to pay for extensive roadworks on the A24/ A55 junction.

When Sainsbury's announced its move into the Northern Ireland market on 20 June 1995, the Newtownbreda site was one of seven identified for future stores. The site was then occupied by Supermac which, when it opened in 1964, was Northern Ireland's first supermarket. Supermac had planned to redevelop the site itself in a £30 million project, however a company director pointed out that the it would be in the position of being at the peak of its overdraft at the same time as facing competition from Sainsbury's as it opened its first store in Northern Ireland. The Irish Times quotes the director as saying "That was a situation we didn't find particularly acceptable." Planning permission for the Sainsbury's store was granted in early February 1996 and construction began with a groundbreaking ceremony a week later. The Sainsbury's store was built on the northern part of the roughly triangular site which was unoccupied as part of the Supermac complex. Sainsbury's first annual report after the store opened in March 1997 noted that the store was "trading far above expectations". Sainsbury's paid £1.75 million for an alcohol sales licence for its off-licence in the centre. However this allowed Sainsbury's, with just two off-licences open in Northern Ireland in 1997, to capture 6% of the market. In January 1998 The Grocer reported that sales at the Forestside off-licence were £140,000 a week. As the first stage opened work continued on the final stage of the shopping mall, 31 small units and two other large stores occupied by Marks & Spencer and Dunnes Stores. The total floor space of the centre is 250,000 square feet (23,000 m 2) the southern part of the which stands on the site of the Supermac supermarket. The architects of the centre took advantage of the large east-west gradient of the site to build underground car parking and service access. Sainsbury's opened a petrol filling station at the same time as the supermarket, on the site of the demolished Drumkeen Hotel. In October 1997 Sainsbury's announced the forward sale of Forestside to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) for approximately £50m. The sale was completed following completiton of building works in September 1998, with Sainsbury's taking a 125 year lease for its store. In January 2001 USS sold the centre to Foyleside Ltd. for £70 million. Foyleside Ltd. owns Foyleside in Derry and the Abbey Centre in Newtownabbey. On 23 November 2006 Marks & Spencer announced a £35 million investment in its Northern Ireland business, £8 million of which was invested in its Forestside store. This involved remodelling, the addition of a second floor to add 22,000 sq ft (2,000 m 2) and a multi storey car park.


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