A new urban format Spar store within the recently opened One Elmwood Student Centre and Students’ Union at Queen’s University Belfast has been built to international standards with some never seen before food concepts and design features.
Henderson Group, which owns Spar in Northern Ireland, worked with Spar UK and Spar International alongside the project team at Queen’s to design and build the £250,000 Union Shop within One Elmwood, bringing a host of new products and services to its customer base of over 27,000 students and staff at the university.
“One Elmwood, the new Queen’s Student Centre and Students’ Union has been seven years in the making,” said Paddy Doody, Sales and Marketing Director at Henderson Group.
“It is a stunning £40m world-class complex which will be home to thousands of students from around the world, so we had an opportunity to develop something truly unique.”
Focused on student needs, and creating a place for all campus essentials, the Union Shop brings a number of firsts for the Spar brand in Northern Ireland.
Mr Doody continued: “The store is proud to introduce the first ever non-dairy self-serve coffee concept under Barista Bar, with its unique plant-based only machine, which we believe is a first for Northern Ireland.
“Barista Bar Planted provides non-dairy options for coffee-drinkers with the same great taste and quality of a signature Barista Bar brew, and will sit alongside two of our standard machines offering a full range of delicious hot drinks.”
With food-to-go high on the priority list, Spar NI’s new exclusive Delish brand makes an impact in the store, exclusively adapted for the Union Shop, with around 300 sq ft dedicated to tasty, freshly prepared hot breakfast and lunch items, either made fresh to order or packaged to grab and go.
Mr Doody added: “This was a high priority for the student and staff demographic.
“Often, they could be running between lectures and only have time to grab something quickly, but they still want good quality food fast, which Delish provides.”
One of the most exciting elements is the Delish Burrito Bar, delivering a traditional Mexican street food experience of fresh, high-quality Burritos and Bowls offering really satisfying portions at great value.
Mr Doody says it is expected to be hugely popular: “The demand for this type of street food, which is full of flavour, customisable and fast, is ever growing.
“Students are the main force behind the demand within this market locally, they are savvy in that they’re not only looking for value prices but top-quality produce that is made right in front of them, which is exactly what we’re delivering with the Delish Burrito Bar and our great value meal deals.”
Delish hot food-to-go will be complemented by a full range of sandwiches, wraps and salads, including the popular Choice range which incorporates the brand’s vegan offering.
The Fanta and Coca Cola Frozen machines, fresh orange juice by iSqueeze and a full Spar Bakery offering ensures there is something for everyone in this exciting food-to-go concept in the heart of Belfast city.
While the Union Shop may be built with international concepts in mind, the design at its heart is derived from locally loved landscapes, created to inspire its student community whether they’re local or experiencing Belfast for the first time.
Welcoming Spar to the new Union Shop in One Elmwood at Queen’s University, Director of Student Plus Caroline Young said: “We are delighted to partner with Spar in our new Union Shop to deliver the best value and range of products to our students, staff and the wider community.
“One Elmwood is a one stop shop for all our student needs, and it’s important that they have access to good quality food and refreshments to keep them going whether they are working in our collaboration spaces, taking part in clubs and societies or just chilling out in our tech friendly space.
“We look forward to working with Spar to make our Union Shop the place to go for students at Queen’s.”
Store manager Glenn Patterson explains: “Belfast’s culture is truly unique. Spar in Northern Ireland is over 60 years old, so we have a lot of history to bring to our store, which will not only welcome international students but help locals feel at home.
“We have created a store that students will want to visit and experience.
“The design is urban but bursting with Belfast heritage, such as the shipping container which houses our Burrito Bar.
“We want our students and staff to feel revived and excited when they visit us, aligning with the ethos of One Elmwood as a whole.”
Eight new jobs have been created in the building of the store, as Glenn adds: “I have 35 years of retail experience, alongside some of my long-serving management team, but we also have students who are taking on new roles and learning vital skills by joining our workforce.
“It’s a fantastic team and we’re so excited to welcome everyone to the new store.”
Services are focused on student needs and the fast-paced shopper profile the team are expecting, so five self-service checkouts have been installed, which will sit alongside store cupboard staples, grab and go items plus bays of fresh, local products and produce and everyday essentials, with all the value and variety that Spar offers throughout Northern Ireland.
n One Elmwood Spar is open 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-4pm at the weekends.
n For more on Spar NI visit spar-ni.co.uk and for more on QUB’s new One Elmwood complex visit qubsu.org
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