Primark reopens its historic Bank Buildings store after devastating blaze
A landmark Belfast city centre building destroyed in a huge fire will reopen to the public later after years of restoration work.
Primark is reopening its store in the famous Bank Buildings following an extensive £100 million four-year restoration project in response to the accidental blaze in August 2018.
The red sandstone facade of the 237-year-old listed building was obscured in the years since by scaffolding and yellow containers, which were gradually removed in recent months as the work neared completion.
The redevelopment undertaken by the retail giant has included demolishing and rebuilding the site in a huge project in the heart of the city.
The new store will feature 88,200 square feet of retail space, a Disney themed cafe and immersive experience, and a new nail and beauty studio.
Primark has created almost 300 new jobs with the reopening of its flagship city centre store. It will be officially reopened to the public by Lord Mayor of Belfast Tina Black on Tuesday morning.
The renovation involved hundreds of crafts and tradespeople, including more than 40 expert stonemasons from across the UK and Ireland who were tasked with carving new stone works and repairing existing stone as part of the restoration.
The stone and marble on the building’s new facade was sourced from quarries in Finland, Scotland and Portugal, the same quarries from where the materials for the original structure were sourced in the 18th century.
Commenting on the reopening of Bank Buildings, Lord Mayor Ms Black said: “As a former Primark employee myself, I have many happy memories of working here during my university years, and now a new chapter begins for the staff.
“When the fire devastated Bank Buildings back in 2018, it was hard to imagine ever reaching this point but over the last few years we’ve witnessed the painstaking work that has gone in to restoring this beautiful heritage building and, like everyone, I’m thrilled to see it reopen its doors today, with the added boost of creating new jobs.
“While the fire was undoubtedly a devastating event for our city and businesses, it also marked something of a watershed moment because it brought together elected members and city partners to work together to find solutions.
“Over the last number of years, we have been able to trial new ideas and initiatives to support recovery and regeneration, and I know that partnership working will continue in the weeks and months ahead.”
Primark Northern Ireland area manager Jacqui Byers added: “Today is a great celebration, not only for Primark, but for all of Belfast following years of hard work to recover and rebuild Bank Buildings.
“It is fantastic to have reached this day and return to our home in Belfast, bringing our colleagues back together under one roof with a store that is bigger and better than ever before.
“As we finally reopen, we wish to thank our colleagues, customers, the business community and the wider city of Belfast once again for their continued support over the past four years.
“Restoring Bank Buildings has been a passion project for Primark, completed in partnership with the wider city of Belfast and our amazing team of crafts and tradespeople – it has been a true team effort.
“This is a proud moment for us, and it is a testament to every individual involved that we welcome shoppers back today.”
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