Is HUGE garden centre evidence of the green shoots of recovery?

THE development of a cavernous new garden centre at The Junction will be a ‘major boost for the local economy’, according to the Mayor and South Antrim MP Paul Girvan.

Last week the Antrim Guardian revealed Dobbies, the UK’s leading garden centre retailer, was planning a 110,000 square foot outlet in the town.

So what exactly is in store? Naturally enough, there will be plants and gardening products - but Dobbie’s have insisted that this is ‘not your average’ garden centre.

There will also be a pet department, homeware, books, toys, gifts and seasonal items - as well as a food hall and a restaurant.

The multi-million pound investment will also create 150 full and part-time jobs.

The perfect antidote, then, to over a year of pandemic gloom.

Paul Girvan has hailed the news of the new store as a ‘major boost’ for the local economy - and a major milestone in the redevelopment of The Junction.

“I am absolutely delighted that Dobbies has selected South Antrim as the home for its new store in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“This announcement marks a major milestone in the £10 million redevelopment of The Junction - a project that I have been heavily involved in, to reinvigorate and regenerate the area.

“Dobbies is a well renowned brand, with a strong customer base, and the news of this major new store will be a huge attraction for shoppers across Northern Ireland.

“South Antrim has in recent times been the epicentre for new jobs and investment and shows, that despite the economic difficulties, this part of Northern Ireland continues to punch above its weight.

“I look forward to continuing to work with The Junction and with Dobbies to deliver this vital investment for the people of South Antrim.”

Mayor Jim Montgomery also welcomed the announcement.

“This is fantastic news for our local economy, after what has been a very difficult trading environment for retailers,” he said.

“With 150 new jobs to be created, it will give our employment opportunities a significant boost and bring much investment to the area.

“We are delighted that Dobbies has chosen to locate one of their largest stores in the UK here in our Borough and it is testament to the recent investment that The Junction has made to the area.”

Pending planning approval, the sprawling outlet is expected to open in spring 2023.

More good news

And that it is not all. The DUP man has also welcomed the announcement of expansion of Antrim tech firm Decision Time, which is based nearby at Kilbegs Business Park.

Last week they told the Antrim Guardian that they were investing in the business, and creating new jobs.

Mr Girvan said the decision was proof of the strong local workforce and highlighted the continued growth of the technology sector in the area.

“I am absolutely delighted that local company Decision Time are investing £600,000 in the organisation, to create an additional 13 jobs in the Antrim area.

“In the last two years, the company has more than doubled its customer base, as it competes on the global stage.

“This most recent investment announced by the company, will allow them to grow its business by up to 75 per cent.

“South Antrim is already recognised as an area with a very strong local workforce and this decision, is yet another example of companies wanting to start up and grow in the area.

“Over recent months we have witnessed a welcomed growth in the tech sector in this constituency.

“I will continue to work with local companies to ensure they have the support that they need to continue to grow and succeed.

“This is yet more welcome news for our local area and I look forward to further job news in the coming months.”

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