Tesco has left big hole to fill

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RUSHMERE have yet to reveal plans on what will replace the unit vacated by Tesco at the shopping centre.

Tesco celebrated the opening of its new Extra store in Craigavon last Monday, leaving Rushmere Centre manager Martin Walsh with the headache of having to find a new tenant for the large vacant unit.

Rumours had been circulating that the former Tesco unit would be broken up into smaller unit with up to three new businesses moving in.

It has also been rumoured Marks and Spencer could be eyeing up the site, while others have suggested Dunnes Stores could be relocating within the centre.

When asked if Rushmere had been able to secure a new client to move in to the unit, or whether the unit would be divided among more than one business, a spokesperson for Rushmere said there was “nothing to report at the minute”.

Meanwhile Rushmere reported an excellent period of trading activity throughout the festive season, at a time when many centres struggled with snow and falling attendances. The centre spread over three tonnes of salt and grit during this period and three snow ploughs were employed to keep the access roads and car parks free from snow and ice.

This Christmas included its busiest day on record. Footfall to the regional shopping centre on Thursday, December 23 was up by 48% on the same day last year with over 40,000 shoppers flocking to the centre on that day alone.

Overall footfall for Christmas Week delivered an increase of 1% year-on-year which compares with the regional index figures published by Experian for that week which indicate a decrease in footfall in Northern Ireland of 15.5%

Commenting on the figures, Rushmere Shopping Centre Manager Martin Walsh said, “This time of year is crucial to retailers and the weather placed another challenge before us. The centre remained open despite the adverse weather conditions which is a tremendous credit to the entire team.

“We are delighted to be busier this year than last, and with a number of new retailers, the Rushmere Centre offer is becoming dominant in the region. Sales were also extremely buoyant with several retailers reporting bumper sales increases on both plan and last year.”

Rushmere offers just under 500,000 square foot of retail space within both a covered shopping centre and a retail park. Additional stores include H&M, Top Shop, Next, Matalan and Homebase.