UK retailers find opportunities in Ireland may be running out

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UK retailers have staged an invasion of Irish high streets but those who have not already opened stores in Ireland may have missed the boat.

A survey published today by Corporate Intelligence on Retailing, a retail consultancy, says the buoyant Irish economy and the relatively undeveloped retail market there has led to expansion by retailers such as Next, Boots, Marks & Spencer and Sports Division. Supermarket groups such as Tesco, J Sainsbury and Safeway have also opened stores in Ireland or acquired local businesses.

But the report warns that the relatively small size of the Irish market means retailers may find opportunities becoming more limited as retail space becomes more expensive.

Irish non-food retailing has traditionally been dominated by department/variety stores. But UK specialists such as Dixons and Courts have moved in while Boots' recent acquisition of the pharmacist Hayes, Connyngham & Robinson could have closed the door on Superdrug, the report says.

The report says there may be more scope for specialist sports retailers. But it warns not all UK retailers are welcomed with open arms. It says Tesco, which moved back into Ireland with the acquisition of Quinnsworth stores, had been greeted with "a mixed reception" as many consumers are loyal to traditional brands.