Ottakar's prepares for Irish push

Ottakar's is launching in Northern Ireland with a 4,000 sq ft (370 sq m) store at Lisburn, and plans more Irish shops this year.

The store opens on June 7, and will be Ottakar's 123rd branch. Irish stores will have the same fascia and layout as Ottakar's mainland outlets, but product lines will be tailored to the local market. A stronger emphasis will be placed on local publishers.

A spokesman declined to reveal how many stores would open in Northern Ireland, or over what period. The retailer has no stores in the Irish Republic.

'This is a natural progression,' said Ottakar's managing director James Heneage. 'We are major booksellers in England, Scotland and Wales, so it is about time we opened in Ireland.' He has previously said that the UK can support 300 Ottakar's shops.

Arthur Tinsley, managing director of bookseller Eason & Son (NI) in Belfast, said: 'I have no doubt they are very professional booksellers and it has been no secret that they have been looking at Northern Ireland for a while. They are a formidable opponent.'

Eason & Son is rebranding in Northern Ireland and, after a complete refit of its Newry store last month, will roll out a new fascia and store layout to all 26 stores over the next 12 to 18 months, Tinsley said. Eason & Son is also changing its product emphasis, increasing the visibility of newspapers and stationery.