International coffee chain Starbucks has signed a deal with Connswater shopping centre in Belfast to open the first ever drive-thru store in Northern Ireland.

Construction work on the 3,300sq ft store in East Belfast Retail Park is due to start by the end of October and will be finished by the end of the year.

Laura McCarthy, asset manager for Killultagh Estates, which owns the shopping centre, said: “The decision by Starbucks to choose Connswater as its first location in Northern Ireland for a drive-thru store demonstrates the confidence that retailers have in the scheme and its strategic location in East Belfast.”

She added: “We are also looking forward to the opening of Lidl’s new 23,000sq ft expanded store early in the New Year.”

The proposed Starbucks store, still subject to planning permission, is part of a wider £200,000 investment in the area, with a landscaping project to improve access to the retail park as part of Belfast City Council’s Greenway Project.

Starbucks announced in 2011 that it would open 200 drive-thrus in the UK over the next five years (source: Daily Telegraph). And a recent news report in the Aberdeen Evening Express claimed the coffee chain would be opening north-east Scotland’s first drive-thru coffee shop towards the end of the year, creating 30 new jobs.

In February, Starbucks brought forward new plans to open a drive-thru café in Northfield on the southern outskirts of Birmingham.