McDonald’s boss gives The Outlet vote of confidence

Man with a plan: McDonald's franchisee John McCollum outside his new restaurant at The Outlet, Banbridge.

Man with a plan: McDonald's franchisee John McCollum outside his new restaurant at The Outlet, Banbridge.

The owner of Banbridge’s new McDonald’s restaurant has said he’s confident The Outlet will be “a spectacular success” over the next few years.

Co Antrim businessman John McCollum is set top open his new 24-hour eatery at the A1 retail park on Wednesday, October 19, bringing more than 100 full and part-time jobs to the area.

McDonald's franchisee John McCollum checks over the plans for the new restaurant at The Outlet, Banbridge.

McDonald's franchisee John McCollum checks over the plans for the new restaurant at The Outlet, Banbridge.

The 59-year-old former sales and marketing executive, who has invested millions of pounds in the new franchise, believes The Outlet has a bright future.

The Outlet, along with Junction One retail park in Antrim, was bought by Tristan Capital Partners and The Lotus Group earlier this year as part of an investment worth more than £40million. And Mr McCollum is confident that their plans for attracting new businesses and more customers to The Outlet will make it “a spectacular success.”

“I think from speaking to the guys (centre management) that the plans they have for The Outlet are good for Banbridge, good for The Outlet and obviously good for ourselves,” he commented.

“I think Banbridge is one of the towns in Northern Ireland that has really done a fantastic job. I understand that The Outlet is slightly out of town shopping, but it’s only about a mile away.

“I think Banbridge traders need to be applauded because they have done a great job in maintaining the hub in the town - it is a fantastic shopping town.”

Stressing that Tristan Capital and The Lotus Group have ambitious plans for The Outlet, Mr McCollum said he believes the retail park will become “Northern Ireland’s premier factory outlet.”

Having joined the McDonald’s Corporation in the early 1990s, Mr McCollum opened his first restaurant at Sprucefield in 1993 and recently took over the franchise at McDonald’s in Newry.

The Birmingham-born businessman believes The Outlet’s location on the busy A1 corridor is key to its success, “perfectly positioned” to attract large numbers of shoppers from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Reflecting on the Brexit vote and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, Mr McCollum says he hopes there won’t be a return to a ‘hard border’.

“I would prefer not to see a hard border. I would hope that there will continue to be free travel between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because we enjoy having that trade and those customers,” he continued.

“I know that we take a lot of euros in Sprucefield, Newry takes a phenomenal amount of euros and I would assume Banbridge will take a lot of euros. I see today we have three Dublin coaches in the car park - lots of people here shopping - so that all lends to a pretty healthy situation for The Outlet and for ourselves.”

Looking forward to unveiling his latest venture, which will be managed by Donaghcloney woman Heather Thomas, Mr McCollum said there is “a lot of hype around Banbridge and surrounding areas” about the new restaurant.

As part of the McDonald’s ‘Experience of the Future’ initiative, the Banbridge outlet will boast a stylish wood and stone interior, state-of-the-art kitchen, modern drive thru service, touch screen kiosks for placing orders and table service.

“It’s a great location. It will be the most modern McDonald’s in Northern Ireland. It’s got everything. I think we will surprise a lot of people,” Mr McCollum said.

Asked if his new restaurant could have a detrimental impact on existing businesses in the town centre, the former filling station owner added: “Everybody that serves a sandwich or a cup of tea is competition - we are all competition to each other. But I think you need competition and I think competition is healthy.”

Meanwhile, Mr McCollum has unveiled plans for a £600,000 refurbishment project at his Sprucefield restaurant, which already boasts the busiest drive thru in the UK.

The Lisburn restaurant will undergo the ‘Experience of the Future’ makeover from November 6, reopening to customers on November 30.