HUNDREDS of shoppers turned out for the opening of a new store in Hartlepool.
Value department store TJ Hughes opened for business, which employs 70 people, in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre on Thursday morning.
Scores of people poured through the doors after a ribbon cutting ceremony by managers at 10.30am.
A town crier heralded the opening of the business and spread the word around the shopping centre.
The Liverpool-based retailer has signed a ten-year lease for the 38,000sqft unit, previously occupied by Westgates, next to Primark.
TJ Hughes’ managing director Anil Juneja said: “We felt this was a great opportunity for us to bring TJ Hughes to the town and the people of Hartlepool.
“We have a strong presence in the North East with stores in Middlesbrough and Newcastle.”
Mr Juneja added he was impressed with the opening day reaction from people who queued to get in the doors.
He said: “It has been fantastic. We had a gathering of a couple of hundred people outside.
“There has been a lot of interest in the store during the refurbishment and a lot of excitement.
“We encourage people to come and see what we have to offer.”
The store sells goods including clothes, electrical goods, toys, shoes, fragrance and beauty, beds and furniture, kitchenware and luggage. It also has a coffee shop.
Middleton Grange manager Mark Rycraft welcomed the arrival saying: “It is great to see so many people turn out for the opening and we welcome them to the centre.”
It is the 11th TJ Hughes store in the UK.