Primark is to donate £500,000 to efforts to support Belfast traders hit by the devastating fire at its landmark city centre store.

The blaze which gutted Primark's Bank Buildings site has caused major disruption in the area.

A large cordon erected round the charred shell of the property is expected to remain in place for months.

Several businesses are within the cordon, while others have seen footfall badly affected by the cordon that blocks off several central thoroughfares.

A Primark spokeswoman said: "Following the devastating fire at Bank Buildings, Primark has been focused on the welfare of our colleagues, while also working with the authorities regarding our on-going commitment to businesses and the wider community in Belfast. Today we want to provide an update on our plans.

"It is our intention to be back up and trading again as soon possible. As you can appreciate, we are at the early stages on this and will confirm details as soon as possible. The Primark spokeswoman continued: "We hope that this will assist the on-going efforts to drive footfall into the city centre.

"As well as re-establishing a high street presence in the city, Primark is committed to supporting the business community affected by the fire.

"Primark will be donating £500,000 to Belfast City Council's recovery programme as a gesture of goodwill.

"The council will manage the distribution of the recovery fund to those local businesses impacted by the fire."

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: "This is a very welcome announcement from Primark and will contribute to the wider City Recovery Investment Fund, which the council is currently establishing, and which will be considered by members of the Council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday.

"Primark is very keen to support small businesses in the city centre - in particular those that have been severely impacted by the fire. The company has asked Belfast City Council to distribute this funding on its behalf.

"Belfast City Council is developing a City Recovery Investment Programme which includes immediate, medium and longer term proposals to support businesses, re-establish and sustain high levels of trading the city centre in the lead up to Christmas and beyond, increase connectivity across the city centre, ultimately ensuring the city's economic resilience.

The contribution made by Primark will be an important part of that overall programme delivery.

"Council and its city partners will continue their engagement with traders and landlords. Following the outcome of Friday's meeting, more details will become available around how businesses can access the funding and when."