News that a successful coffee chain could be coming to Carrickfergus has reignited the debate over the best way forward for the town centre.
Last month, artisan coffee company Bob and Berts confirmed that it is currently seeking a suitable site with a view to opening a branch in the town.
Having seen a rapid expansion in recent years, the firm currently operates 11 branches across Northern Ireland.
The question of how to rejuvenate Carrick’s retail heart has long been a matter of concern for the local government authority, with the legacy Carrickfergus Council highlighting a need for ‘cafe culture’ as part of the town centre masterplan.
The news was met with mixed opinion on social media, with some users welcoming the potential for new jobs. Others, however, felt that a greater variety of shops were required in the town.
“There are plenty of coffee shops in Carrick already,” said Facebook user, Julie Cooke. “What Carrick needs are shops that will bring revenue and business our way and for the council to drop the rates.”
Another Facebook user, Kat Atkinson added: “I’m delighted that another business is moving into Carrick, especially one that has proven so successful in it’s other locations, It will also provide jobs for local people.
“Does Carrick need more variety of shops, absolutely, but it also needs a larger footfall and less vacant premises to attract new businesses - that’s what Bob and Berts will do.”
Noel Williams, chairman of the Carrickfergus Town Centre Partnership, said he was “delighted” to see another reputable business considering Carrickfergus as an outlet.
“There are currently a number of empty premises so I can’t see Bob and Berts being welcomed with anything but open arms,” he added.
“I am sure they will integrate with other businesses and contribute to the cafe culture that would enhance the town centre and boost the tourism facility.
“Having seen Bob & Berts premises in Ballymoney and Limavady I am sure their bright blue frontage would brighten up our town.”