A sign at the entrance to the old Superquinn site
It’s probably best to - in the words of Bob Dylan - ascribe this to a simple twist of fate.
But how ironic it will be at the same time if, as reported in the Leader in September, it comes to pass that Dunnes Stores opens its newest store in Rep. of Ireland at the former Superquinn site at North Main Street, Naas.
Because it’s not just that Dunnes Stores will have managed to get itself up, ready and running long, long, before the Naas Shopping Centre.
It will be setting up shop where the long lamented Superquinn outlet had been trading for almost three decades, when it decided to close in February 2011 with the loss of some 110 jobs.
By this time Superquinn had sold its premises. It was now owned by Penneys, who pulled out of Naas leaving millions of euros behind in the form of an overpriced purchase of the store.
Superquinn had a special place in the hearts of many Naas residents. It was the town’s main supermarket for many years and there was a longstanding manager there who many people knew by his first name.
Dunnes will be given a warm welcome to Naas; not just for the employment (supermarket employees are among the hardest working though not necessarily the best paid of any sector of the economy). But because a big retail name like Dunnes will bring more people into the town and into other businesses that are under sustained pressure. Apart from SuperValu there is no big retail player in Naas town centre.
It will be overlooked that DS was originally destined for the sad heap of concrete that is the NSC and that DS had a change of mind, most likely brought about by the impending depression.
The brochure promoting the NSC made much of the fact that DS would be in place by the opening in December 2009. Dunnes was to have taken up nearly 173,000 square feet.
At the time the brochure was produced Dunnes was the only store mentioned by the centre developer.
“Naas Shopping Centre occupies a pivotal, high profile location on south Main Street, offering retailers a superb opportunity to gain a foothold in this already thriving town. Naas Shopping Centre will become the retail hub of Naas town and its surrounding environs, presenting the ideal shopping environment,” the brochure said.
The theory was that DS would have been the anchor tenant in the NSC and anchor tenants are seen as the main attraction that bring customers to a shopping venue.
At the same time the NSC is on the market. There have been multiple statements that a sale is imminent but these stories have been knocking around for a while now.
It could be that is it if DS opens at North Main Street, the sale of the NSC will be put off a bit longer. Because any buyer will be mindful that a potential anchor tenant at the centre may think twice if Dunnes have stolen a march, especially if they are competitors.
Things can only get better at both locations.
At first glance the only activity at the NSC is the presence of round-the-clock security provided by a specialist firm.
Helpful signs have been nailed up to the wooden surrounds advising people to stay out because they are trespassing (though it could be argued that the public are the owners since NAMA is seeking a buyer,through a receiver and NAMA is in theory owned by all of us).
But it will be sold and at a discount. And projected population growth in Naas would support both the NSC and Dunnes.