Primark has returned to Belfast three months after its 118-year old flagship building was destroyed by a fire, seeing hundreds of shoppers queue to be the first inside.
According to The Guardian, over 1000 shoppers travelled from across Northern Ireland and queued from 4.45am to visit the new store, situated just down the road from its former site.
In August, Belfast’s grade-listed Bank Buildings, originally built in 1785 and used as Primark’s flagship in the region since 1979, were destroyed by a fire.
Although no-one was injured in the blaze, it caused havoc for the city centre and surrounding retailers.
A cordon has remained in place around the site, which includes many other retailers, since the incident, devastating footfall and blocking thoroughfares.
In September, Primark announced a £500,000 donation to Belfast City Council as a “gesture of goodwill” to the surrounding businesses affected by the fire’s fallout.
Last week a report also found that local transport suffered “a loss in revenue of £152,000 due to a reduction in passenger journeys (29,000) and additional costs associated with the diversionary routes”.
Primark’s new store was welcomed with open arms by the hundreds of shoppers, one of whom said they had not visited the city centre to shop since the fire, adding “it is not Belfast without Primark, I really missed it”.
Belfast’s lord mayor Deirdre Hargey added: “This is a great day for the city of Belfast particularly just before Christmas.
“You could see the atmosphere with all the customers queuing up, but also the atmosphere among the staff inside, it was an emotional morning but also one of excitement.
“This will really help with footfall so I am really happy with this day, it shows the city’s resilience, we are bouncing back as a city, there is more work to be done, but this is great not just for Primark and its staff, but also for the surrounding traders particularly here in Castle Street.”