WH Smith’s brand will shortly disappear from Belfast. On November 5th, Eason took over the operation of the Donegall Place WH Smith unit near Next and Marks & Spencer. In the New Year, it will close for refurbishment before reopening, branded as Eason. The existing Eason store further on down the street will then close.
According to the Irish Times article by Ciarán Hancock back in October, “Eason employs 26 staff in its existing store, while the WH Smith outlet has 37 employees”.
Staff in the WH Smith store were talking at lunchtime about the changeover. Some were hoping to hear tonight whether they’d still have jobs in the Spring.
Eason has boosted its presence in Belfast city centre by acquiring a leasehold property at 40-46 Donegall Place from British rival WH Smith … Eason owns the freehold on 20 Donegall Place and plans to lease it to another entity … The WH Smith store covers 1,837 square metres, roughly twice the size of its existing shop. It will continue to trade under the WH Smith brand, under licence to Eason, until January next.
This change, leaves airport outlets as WH Smith’s only presence in Northern Ireland.
Expect a good sale in WH Smith after Christmas, as well as an empty unit on Donegall Place and twenty+ fewer retail jobs.