Belfast Business Tips
(Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK)
Although the docks were once the activity hub of old Belfast, continued development has made this area more suitable for industrial machinery than people, and many of the city's businesses still operate here. The docks are most famous for their shipyards where the world-famous Titanic was actually built and launched.
Nowadays, the main businesses are related to tourism, retail and hospitality, and Belfast hosts many successful events and festivals throughout the year to publicise this important Irish city. Belfast has invested heavily in the city, providing excellent facilities for visitors, including a number of large theatres, the Odyssey - which is one of the largest entertainment complexes in the world, and extensive refurbishment to the spectacular Grand Opera House, which is home to many major concerts and important musical events throughout the year.
Belfast is a busy city, with tourists arriving throughout the year. As a result, there are a large number of shops and restaurants in central Belfast, providing an excellent choice. There are also numerous tourist attractions within Northern Ireland and these continue to prosper as the city of Belfast expands. The hotel industry also reflects the high number of annual visitors.
Belfast has certainly grown as an important financial city in the area and on the outskirts there are a number of large businesses, including a number of large, modern office buildings. The pace of business life in Belfast tends to be fairly relaxed and less hectic than other cities in Ireland.
Business Hours and General Etiquette
In general, most offices in Belfast will operate between the hours of 09:00 and 17:00, Monday to Friday, although business hours do vary from one industry to another. Most banks open between 09:00 to 16:00 Monday to Friday (to 17:00 on Thursdays) and larger branches may also open on Saturday mornings. Many are in the heart of Belfast and usually have ATMs outside that accept a wide network of cards, including Visa, Cirrus, Plus and MasterCard.
Most pubs in Belfast open Monday to Saturday at 10:00 and at 12:30 on Sunday. They stop serving at 23:30 Monday to Wednesday, 00:30 Thursday to Saturday, and 23:00 on Sunday, although they do take another hour to actually close. Some bars in Belfast city centre have permission to serve until 02:00 at the weekend. Many shops are open longer and often throughout the weekends, and some supermarkets are open 24 hours.
In both dress and manners, locals in Belfast are fairly formal and normal business courtesies should still be observed. The degree of formality necessary depends upon the actual nature of the business, with financial and legal professions being more formal than computer and media organisations. Many men still wear suits and short sleeve shirts are acceptable in the summer months in Belfast. Woman may also wear suits, but tend to be more casual in appearance.
Working lunches are a popular way to do business in Belfast and locals are quick to use first-name terms when appropriate. Drinks or dinner is a popular way to end the hard working week and there are many pubs and wine bars in central Belfast that are popular with the working crowd.
Spires Mall and Conference Centre
Address: Wellington Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Tel: +44 (0)28 9032 2284
The Spires Mall and Conference Centre is located in Belfast city centre and is more than 100 years old. Located opposite the Grand Opera House, the Spires Mall and Conference Centre has excellent facilities for business visitors, including meeting rooms, conference suites, panoramic views of Belfast, telephones, fax machines, computer access, secretarial services, shops and a café.
Open hours: Monday to Saturday - 09:00 to 17:30, Thursday - 09:00 to 21:00, Sundays - 13:00 to 17:00
A brief and friendly handshake is usually the customary greeting in Belfast and generally throughout England. New acquaintances are often addressed on first name terms.
Belfast and Ireland have a strict 'no smoking' policy and local offices and businesses, restaurants, pubs and public transport are now 'non-smoking' as the Irish now have a positive attitude to no smoking.