Douglas Shopping Centre reopens
“I can't really describe how I feel. I'm just so, so simply happy for all of the retailers who had to wait and were unable to trade.”
The relieved words of Douglas Village Shopping Centre Manager Bartosz Mieszala as the centre prepares to open its doors for the first time since a fire forced it to close in August 2019.
The centre reopens today (Thursday) with 13 units up and running and ready for business, with more expected to open once Level 5 restrictions are eased in December.
Businesses set to reopen this morning include Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Euro Giant, Bank of Ireland, Eir, Starbucks, Puccino’s and O’Brien’s.
Douglas Library, which was damaged in the fire, is also set to reopen once restrictions allow.
“Things are going well. We're very busy and very excited. There are a few final touches being done around the place,” Mr Mieszala told the Cork Independent.
He added: “It will be the most rewarding feeling to see those customers walking back in the door after so many months.”
Following the fire, which caused an estimated €30 million worth of damage, plans were put in place to reopen the centre in the summer.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown meant that work and preparations could not be completed until now.
Speaking to the Cork Independent, local city councillor Mary Rose Desmond said that the reopening is “vitally important” for Douglas Village.
She said: “As somebody who was born and raised in Douglas, I'm absolutely thrilled. I think it brings a sense of possibilities and reignites hope and enthusiasm in and around Douglas Village.”
The councillor added that she would be popping in today to “pick up a few bits”.
Marks & Spencer recently announced that it would be hiring 60 new employees to be shared amongst its Douglas and St Patrick's Street locations.
Dave Long, Marks & Spencer Douglas Store Manager, said: “The re-opening of the store has been a busy time for us, and we’ve really appreciated the patience of our customers during the rebuild. I am very proud of our team and our new colleagues for their efforts in preparing the store.
“We are looking forward to welcoming back our customers and our focus is on creating a fantastic safe experience for each and every customer that visits our store.”
Similarly, Tesco Ireland announced the creation of 1,150 new jobs recently to support business operations in the run up to Christmas.
Of these jobs, 120 will be created in Cork.
While it was closed, Tesco Douglas redeployed its staff to its other Cork locations. These staff will now return to the Douglas store.
Speaking in Douglas, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “Tesco’s latest recruitment drive provides much needed good news in challenging times. I would like to thank Tesco staff and all other retail workers who have kept our shops open during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“They are playing a vital role in ensuring people have access to essential supplies in a safe environment. These additional jobs will further improve the shopping experience for customers as well as providing an employment boost in Cork and right across the country.”