herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

It's back to basics for Arnotts with plans for reduction in size of store

Arnotts
Arnotts

The iconic Arnotts department store is set to go back to basics in a dramatic makeover that would reduce it to its original size.

The Henry Street store is expected to undergo a facelift as early as 2018 in a deal struck by developer Noel Smyth with the store's owners.

Planning application documents lodged to Dublin City Council reveal a major shake-up is planned for the layout of the store.

The developer has applied for permission to separate numbers 7, 8 and 9 on Henry Street - which currently forms part of Arnotts - into a separate 40,000 sq ft building.

Although the separation will reduce Arnotts' physical footprint, the store will remain Ireland's largest department store.

If the application to remove the three units - currently the home of Arnotts' ladies' shoes department - gets the green light it would transform Arnotts back to its original size.

The units earmarked for redevelopment were only added in the 1960s.

However, Dubliners and shoppers do not face any major revamp anytime soon.

A spokesperson for developers Fitzwilliam Finance Partners said that if planning permission is granted, it would not be until spring 2018 before any works take place.

The staff working in the department store are said to be surprised by the proposed separation of the building.

However, the move is in line with the developers' and Arnotts bosses' vision for the store.

Property

It is understood the developer plans to create a unit which would be suitable for a major international retailer - such as Apple or Next.

It is widely known that such retailers are searching for a suitable Dublin city centre property.

However, business sources believe that no talks with a possible tenant will take place until permission is granted by Dublin City Council, dashing shoppers' hopes of a new store opening soon.

Arnotts say the proposed changes will boost buyers' experiences.

"Arnotts is committed to enhancing the shopping experience for its customers while cherishing the store's unique heritage," said a spokesman.

"Our vision is to return Arnotts' retail footprint to the original iconic building.

"Following the proposed changes, Arnotts will remain the largest and only full-line department store in Ireland, and one of the biggest in Europe."

Meanwhile, Fitzwilliam Partners stated the plans will have no impact on the number of people working at the department store.

A spokesman added: "The separation of the buildings will see Arnotts return to its original retail footprint, something that was envisaged for the business at the time of its acquisition last year. The change will have no impact on staff numbers in Arnotts.

"The separation is part of wider plans that Arnotts are progressing to improve the shopping environment for their customers."

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