Fashion retailer Penneys is to create 700 new jobs as part of a €250m capital investment and redevelopment programme.

The plan will see the company increase its total retail space in Ireland by 20% over the next decade.

The expansion will include a new store in The Square in Tallaght which will open in the autumn of next year, employing 300 people.

There will also be a €60m investment made in the redevelopment and extension of its Patrick Street store in Cork city while €20m will be injected into an extension at its Eyre Square outlet in Galway.

€75m will also be spent on a new 5550,000 sq ft distribution centre in Newbridge, Co Kildare which recently received planning permission and is due to open in early 2024.

Its Carlow store is relocating to a larger building and will reopen next summer.

"We hugely value our incredibly loyal Irish customers who have supported us over the years," said Paul Marchant, Primark CEO. Primark trades as Penneys here.

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"Our investment plans demonstrate the confidence and commitment we have to Penneys in Ireland: we plan to remain at the centre of Irish retail for a long time to come," he added.

600 of the new roles announced today will be in Penneys stores in areas including full and part-time retail assistants, trainee managers and department managers.

The remaining 100 new positions will be located at its global headquarters, Arthur Ryan House, in Dublin city centre.

These jobs will be technology, buying and merchandising, design, sustainability, store development, finance and HR.

Penneys already employs 5,000 staff in Ireland.

The new 43,000 sq. ft shop in Tallaght in Autumn 2022 will bring to 37 the total number of Penneys shops here.

Globally, Primark has around 399 stores and 70,000 staff.

Penneys already employs 5,000 people in Ireland

Mr Marchant said the investment was being driven by Penneys/Primark's belief in bricks and mortar retailing.

"We're real believers in stores. It is why we are investing in the 130 stores across the world and we feel it is the right time for us now to invest in Ireland," he said.

"We have got a very loyal customer here. Customers love the Primark and Penney's proposition and we want to continue to invest in stores not only here in Dublin but right across the country."

Asked if this meant an online presence for Penneys was still off the agenda, he said right now the focus is on bricks and mortar as that is what they believe in and what customers say they want.

Penneys has faced criticism for selling so-called "fast fashion" which critics argue has a negative impact on the environment.

But Mr Marchant said Primark recently launched a new sustainability strategy and it is putting a real focus on the agenda.

"We recognise that we are a volume retailer and that we can use our scale for good by bringing about the changes we need across our entire supply chain," he said.

"We recognise that responsibility and take it very seriously."

He said the last 18 months had been very challenging for the retail sector and we don't know what is around the corner, but the stores are open and trading.

Although Primark like many companies has been hit by supply chain problems, Mr Marchant said there would be no shortages in supplies in the run up to Christmas.

He said the issues had been well documented and the company had dealt with them well, but it has not been easy.

He added that while staff shortages in retail had also been well documented, he is confident that Primark has the right staffing levels to serve customers across the world.

The news was welcomed by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, who said it was a really strong vote of confidence in the retail sector.

"It's creating significant employment with 700 new jobs and will also help to secure footfall in our towns and cities once we emerge from the pandemic," he said.

"Penneys is one of Ireland's best-known retailers and also an international success story, having driven significant global expansion over the last few years," he added.