Kennedy Centre has been going strong in West Belfast for the past quarter of a century.
Here’s 25 things you might not know about the 25-year-old shopping centre…
1. Kennedy Centre is owned by Hugh Kennedy, known fondly as ‘Curley’.
2. Before the enduring Kennedy Centre story began, Hugh opened a humble fruit and veg store on the neighbouring Glen Road with just £20.
3. The centre’s foundations date back almost 50 years when it was formerly the site of a Lucozade factory.
4. Hugh Kennedy bought the site, developed it and opened his supermarket, Curley’s, in 1981.
5. He grew his business from a modest 500 sq. foot grocery store on a nearby site to the 260,000 sq. foot emporium it is today.
6. Having begun his career at the shopping centre as a security guard and working his way up to his current role as Operations Supervisor, Michael Moore has worked at Kennedy Centre for over 24 years.
7. In 2015, John Jones, Centre Manager, won the prestigious award for ‘Best Centre Manager in Northern Ireland’ in the SCEPTRE Awards.
8. It comes as no surprise that Kennedy Centre is celebrating its 25th Anniversary as it is, currently, one of the only shopping centres in Northern Ireland to be fully occupied with no empty units.
9. Two retailers, Tonic Hair and Speedy Shoe Repairs, have been based at Kennedy Centre from the very beginning. That’s a whopping 25 years of servicing the local community.
10. Just last year, Kennedy Centre enjoyed footfall numbers of over 5.2 million which amounts to some 100,000 shoppers per week – a figure that is consistently growing.
11. Sainsbury’s, which replaced Curley’s Supermarket at Kennedy Centre in 2009, is the largest Sainsbury’s in Ireland measuring in at a mammoth 97,000 sq. foot.
12. The Kennedy Centre is also the office space of Northern Ireland’s only football agent, Gerry Carlisle.
13. Kennedy Centre is at the heart of the community and provides 750 jobs in the local area.
14. Staying true to its community focus, Kennedy Centre has raised over £250,000 for local charities.
15. There is a suite in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Children’s Hospital named the ‘Kennedy Suite’ as a result of Kennedy Centre’s continued charity work.
16. Recently, Kennedy Centre raised over £10,000 for Belfast’s Welcome Organisation.
17. Kennedy Centre’s award winning occupant, 26 West, was voted Best Ulster Fry in Belfast through an online poll in November 2015.
18. Kennedy Centre’s ‘Shamrocks and Shenanigans’ event is one of the most popular St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the West of the city.
19. Kennedy Centre regularly hosts yearly themed events including its ‘Halloween Hoolie’, ‘Santa’s Arrival’ and ‘West Belfast Traders Christmas Market’.
20. In Christmas 2015, the Kennedy centre was the first ever shopping centre to offer extended sessions with Santa for children with additional needs to visit him at quieter times, away from the busy crowds.
21. Back in 2012, Kennedy Centre was host to the weigh-in of current World Heavyweight Champion, Tyson Fury ahead of his bout against Kevin Johnson.
22. Kennedy Centre opened a state of the art Omniplex eight-screen digital cinema in July 2010.
23. Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster made their first appearance on the Falls Road at a breakfast meeting at 26 West in the Kennedy Centre.
24. Antrim Camogie team launched their new jersey in O’Neills at the Kennedy Centre by doing the Harlem Shake.
25. An unusual feature for a shopping centre, the Kennedy Centre opened a Dental Surgery “Sliabh Mor Dental Care” in November of last year.