Derry cinema boss cautions against ‘taking growth for granted’

Paul John Anderson, Director Omniplex NI who welcomed Derry City and Strabane Mayor Michaela Boyle, Karen Mullan MLA, Councillor Mary Durkan and  Gary Middleton MLA to the Strand Road Traders Investment event in conjunction with Holiday Inn Express. Picture Martin McKeown.
Paul John Anderson, Director Omniplex NI who welcomed Derry City and Strabane Mayor Michaela Boyle, Karen Mullan MLA, Councillor Mary Durkan and Gary Middleton MLA to the Strand Road Traders Investment event in conjunction with Holiday Inn Express. Picture Martin McKeown.

A Derry businessman has warned fellow traders against taking growth and investment for granted.

Paul John Anderson, Director of Omniplex Holdings NI - owners of the cinema complex on Derry’s Strand Road - says the idea that businesses can all trade independently of each other is “simply wrong”.

He was speaking at a business event hosted by the Strand Road Traders group in the city.

He said: “As a family that has traded in this city for the last 40 years, we have never been more certain of the economic opportunity that lies ahead for Derry.

“We welcome the proposed City Deal that will provide further investment into the infrastructure and regeneration of the city. As private sector investors, we know we have our part to play. Omniplex has experienced the highs and lows of the economic impact on Derry. But we believe in this city and recently invested more than £5million pounds in refurbishment and the installation of state of the art recliners for our cinema.”

Strand Road, he said, was a “wonderful example of the unique nature of this city”.

“It encompasses the best in academia, high technology jobs and the best offering of shopping, services, accommodation, restaurants and entertainment, all within walking distance.

“However, we cannot take this growth and investment for granted. Some companies continue to find the trading environment challenging. The idea that we can all trade independently of each other is simply wrong.”

He urged local traders to look for ways in which they could support each other.

“Together, we can provide a strong voice to the Business and Culture Department of the Council in articulating the need to maintain the prioritisation of a ‘city centre first’ policy for investment and planning.

“Together, we can promote and market the Strand Road as a tourism centre to stay, eat, be entertained and shop.”

The promised City Deal, said Mr Anderson, offered exciting and challenging targets for job creation.

“But we all know that, to attract people to stay or to come to work in a city, it has to be an attractive place to live,” he added.

At the same event, the city’s Mayor hailed Strand Road as “one of Derry’s most iconic retail streets”.

Councillor Michaela Boyle added: “We hope that, by bringing you together, you can share business ideas, support one another and continue to work collectively towards enhancing and promoting the Strand Road.”