Shelbourne Motors puts connectivity first in major new investment


One of Northern Ireland’s largest motor retail groups, Shelbourne Motors, has overhauled its communications network as part of a new digital investment designed to drive greater connectivity across its operations.

Last year, the long-established family firm opened a new, state-of-the-art £5 million multi-franchise complex in Newry, adding Renault, Dacia and Kia retail outlets to its citywide business.

In a next-stage development, the Newry and Portadown-based company has now completed a significant overhaul of its telecommunications network by introducing the latest Cloud-based technology to enhance all phone and digital services for customers, staff and suppliers.

The work was carried out by Northern Ireland’s leading independent telecommunications and IT company, Rainbow Communications, which installed a new internet-based telephony system, including a new, dedicated leased line which ensures that all internet traffic can travel uninterrupted and securely between sites.

Founded in 1973 and recognised as one of the most progressive, growing car dealer groups in Northern Ireland, Shelbourne Motors is an award-winning company, employing more than 130 staff across outlets in Newry and Portadown. In addition to representing top global car brands including Toyota and Nissan, the company also operates an industry-leading, purpose-built used car supermarket, Autoselect, a rental division, body repair shop and valet centre.

Lidl Northern Ireland pledges £32 million local investment and support of more than 1,000 jobs in the development of five new stores


Lidl Northern Ireland today revealed plans to invest more than £32 million in five brand new state-of-the-art stores across the Belfast City Region that will directly create 100 new permanent jobs with the retailer and support up to 1,000 jobs in the locality during the development and construction phases.


The region’s fastest-growing supermarket said the investment drive was part of a long-term plan to grow Lidl’s store network to 50 stores in Northern Ireland and provide a multi-million-pound boost for the region in order to bring its high quality offering and low prices to more shoppers in the Belfast city area.


An independent review of its operations published by Oxford Economics last year showed that Lidl Northern Ireland already contributes around £180 million annually to the local economy and sustains more than 3,500 jobs.


The line-up of new stores will include locations in Castlereagh Road, Hillview Retail Park on Crumlin Road, Boucher Road, Holywood Exchange and Shore Road.


The state-of-the-art stores will each be around 2,100 square meters in size and are designed in line with Lidl Northern Ireland’s new ‘concept’ approach featuring a larger, modern and spacious fit-out with a significant emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency.

Lidl Customers Given Chance to Bag their Christmas Shop for Just £1 as Trolley Dash Returns in aid of NSPCC Northern Ireland


This Christmas season is set to be one like no other, and this year Lidl Northern Ireland is hoping to brighten spirits (and budgets) by giving shoppers the chance to win their entire Christmas shop for just £1 by purchasing a ticket to the retailer’s annual Trolley Dash in aid of charity partner, NSPCC Northern Ireland. Tickets will go on sale on Monday 16th November across all 40 stores nationwide for two weeks only.


Winners will be challenged to a ‘Supermarket Sweep’ style dash around their local Lidl store to grab as much of their Christmas shopping as possible in just two minutes. 100% of the proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to Lidl Northern Ireland’s charity partner, NSPCC, whose mission is to fight for every childhood. Operating three service centres in Belfast, Foyle and Craigavon and two Childline bases in Belfast and Foyle, NSPCC Northern Ireland supports children right across the region and works to prevent abuse, help rebuild children’s lives and support families.

From Downpatrick to Derry, every Lidl store across Northern Ireland will pick one winner at random to complete a dash in their store and, with previous dashes valued well into the hundreds, customers are encouraged to get into stores from Monday to secure their entry. Tickets will be sold at Lidl Northern Ireland checkouts nationwide and shoppers can purchase as many tickets as they wish in support of NSPCC Northern Ireland.

Rainbow Communications marks a decade at the top for mobile growth


Northern Ireland’s largest independent telecoms company, Rainbow Communications, is this week celebrating a full 10 years of growth delivering mobile telephony and data services to thousands of local companies.

Established in 1998, the company, which has 100-strong team operating across Northern Ireland, this month celebrates a new milestone in its history by marking 10 years since it first moved into mobile communications.

Since August 2010, it has supplied more than 10,000 smartphones on all major networks including EE, O2 and Vodafone on tailored contract terms from one month and longer with the support of a dedicated local customer team.

As part of its own innovation and growth in this area, Rainbow Communications is launching its own-branded mobile service which access all major networks backed by a strong local customer service team and one simple, transparent monthly bill.

Let’s Eat Out to Help Out Our Belfast’s City Centre Hospitality Businesses


As the UK Government’s 4-week initiative ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ gets underway, Belfast’s first citizen, Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey was doing just that.

The Lord Mayor was joined for lunch at Mourne Seafood Bar, one of over 100 participating city restaurants, by Gerry Lennon (Visit Belfast), Stephen Mewha (Belfast One), Chris McCracken (Linen Quarter) and Paul McErlean (Destination CQ).

Visit Belfast, in partnership with Belfast One, Linen Quarter and Destination CQ have implemented a marketing campaign to promote eating out in Belfast in support of city centre businesses. The initiative is aimed at encouraging people across the UK and Northern Ireland to dine out Monday to Wednesday and receive 50% off their bill (up to £10 per head) from 3 to 31 August. The partnership marketing campaign is designed to drive footfall back into Belfast City Centre.

FE McWilliam Gallery & Studio reopens today


FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio reopened in Banbridge today (Wednesday July 29) and is safely welcoming back visitors to enjoy its award-winning permanent display of McWilliam’s work, outstanding exhibitions, craft shop, gardens, food and drink.

Dedicated to the memory of local sculptor Frederick Edward McWilliam, one of Ireland’s most influential and successful artists, the free-to-visit gallery and studio, which has been closed since March, will be open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm.

Described by the Irish Times as one of the island’s ‘hidden gems’ and a “remarkable” facility, top travel expert Pól Ó Conghaile at the Irish Independent has also described the gallery and studio as a ‘hidden gem’ while heaping praise on its award-winning restaurant, Quail’s.

The FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio was established in 2008, two decades after the sculptor’s death, to house works his family bequeathed to the people of Banbridge, including the contents of his studio, a replica of which sits in the garden.

The son of a local doctor, McWilliam was born in the town in 1909 and his work spans most of the major artistic movements of the 20th century.

Featuring a permanent display of McWilliam’s work, temporary exhibitions of Irish and international art, a craft shop, café and Banbridge Visitor Information Point, the FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio is popular among visitors from across the island.

Lidl Northern Ireland Harvests New Crop of Home-Grown Artisan Producers


Lidl Northern Ireland is serving up a real taste of home this summer by adding a brand new range of home-grown products from artisan food and drink producers across Northern Ireland.

Showcasing the best of Northern Irish produce, the selected products will be available across all 202 Lidl stores on the island of Ireland as part of the retailer’s ‘Kick Start’ local supplier development programme.

The new products, which include succulent smoked meats, award-winning apple cider vinegar, hearty meat pies, healthy ready meals and premium Irish gin will hit shelves on Thursday 30th July and will be available for a limited time.

Now in its third year, the Lidl Kick Start Programme is designed to help small and medium size local food and drink producers grow their brand, build their supply network and reach new customer audiences with the potential to open up new export opportunities. Previous Kick Start success stories include Noisy Snacks based in Newtownards, Copeland Spirits distilled in Donaghadee and Refuge Hot Chocolate brewed in Belfast as well as many more.

Hop to it… The Rabbit Bar & Restaurant Opens with Enchanting New Dining Experience


Galgorm Collection has officially revealed the name of its new-look boutique hotel, ‘The Rabbit’, formerly known as the Templeton, and announced the opening of its brand new Rabbit Bar & Restaurant on Friday 17th July.

Burrowed in the heart of the picturesque village of Templepatrick, Co Antrim, The Rabbit Bar and Restaurant exudes sass, with a chic interior, bespoke lighting and eclectic décor for an unforgettable dining experience. Taking centre stage is The Rabbit’s show-stopping bar, adorned with glistening bronze, where expert mixologists shake up the finest libations.

With a menu inspired by the American Deep South, featuring seasonal, local produce and the finest cuts of meat, The Rabbit is the perfect den for couples, friends and families to escape, with a menu designed for sharing.

The Rabbit Bar & Restaurant seats up to 180 and boasts a large outdoor terrace for al fresco dining, offering stunning views of the property’s newly installed garden.

Galgorm Collection acquired the former Templeton Hotel last year and is currently undergoing a £7 million investment. Extensive refurbishment work has been undertaken to upgrade the hotel’s 24 guest rooms and develop a new outdoor spa offering, due to open later this year. The Rabbit Bar & Restaurant refurbishment represents an investment of £2.5 million into the property.

Greenisland Flowers in full bloom after securing new supply deal with Lidl Northern Ireland


Top Northern Ireland horticulturalist Greenisland Flowers is blooming today after securing a new supply deal with Lidl Northern Ireland to ship more than four million stems of freshly cut tulips, lilies and scented stocks to its 202 stores in Ireland and Northern Ireland

With over 40 employees, the Portadown-based company which has two sites across six hectares in Craigavon has been growing retail-ready fresh flowers for over 18 years and this latest contract will take its longstanding relationship with Lidl Northern Ireland up to 2022.

Its partnership with Northern Ireland’s fastest-growing supermarket goes back to 2012 when it started supplying stems to its growing regional store base. Since establishing in 2002, producing just 250,000 stems, the company has grown its operations to this year supply more than four million stems to the retailer.

Belfast Chamber and Ardmore to host free resilience workshop for businesses


Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce has joined forces with leading integrated communications agency, Ardmore, to deliver an online workshop featuring one of the most powerful global influencers in the retail industry, Cate Trotter, aimed at helping local firms claw their way back to recovery post Covid-19.

The free webinar, “Understanding Your Customer in a Post-Lockdown World”, takes place on Thursday 2 July at 5pm and will deliver new insights, practical solutions and advice to aid new growth and a more sustainable future for businesses right across Northern Ireland.

A respected expert in retail, current trends and technology, Cate Trotter has helped major brands such as Facebook, Nike, Chanel, Samsung, Mercedes-Benz, Levi’s and EE power their way through change and new innovations and will be bringing her expertise to Belfast as part of this major business support event.

Hosted by Belfast Chamber chief executive, Simon Hamilton, the panel includes Ardmore’s top marketing and creative strategists Paul Bowen, Ed Henderson, Paul James and Alison O’Neill to help guide businesses through the challenges ahead.