Leading UK discount retailer Poundstretcher is remaining tight-lipped about possible plans for a major store expansion project in Banbridge.
Rumours are rife that the company is planning to extend into the adjoining disused SuperValu unit on Newry Street to create one of the biggest Poundstretcher stores in Northern Ireland.
Staff at the store said they are aware of the expansion rumours but couldn’t make any comment on the matter.
The Leader made a number of attempts to contact Poundstretcher for comment, but there had been no response at the time of publication.
Commenting on the possibility of Poundstretcher taking over the old SuperValu unit, Michael Donaghy, president of Banbridge Chamber of Trade, said: “We have heard the rumour, and if it is true the Chamber would welcome it.
“It may not be perfect to have three pound shop-type retailers on the main street - the Chamber would prefer a range of shops to improve the shopping experience - but it is considerably better than the current empty SuperValu store which had become an eyesore in the middle of the town.”
Upper Bann MLA Carla Lockhart believes the Poundstretcher expansion will go ahead.
“I am delighted to see an established brand like Poundstretcher continuing to grow in the area,” she said.
“Since the closure of SuperValu the empty premises has been a shadow on a great town centre. I welcome the fact that it will now be occupied and will create jobs in the vicinity.”
The DUP representative added: “It is important that the retail mix of any town is correct and to that end I will be continuing to work with the traders, council and potential investors to try and ensure that investors see Banbridge as a good, sustainable and thriving business area.”
This isn’t the first time that rumours have circulated about the future of the prominent town centre business premises.
Late last year retail giant Marks and Spencer refused to comment on suggestions that it might be planning to open one of its Simply Food stores at the former SuperValu site.
At that time a spokesperson for the company said it “does not comment on rumour or speculation.”
Established in 1981, Poundstretcher now has more than 400 stores across the UK, selling a huge selection of products including kitchenware, bedding, bathroom products, furniture, electrical goods and children’s toys. The retail chain employs more than 6,000 people.