Town chain store takes on extra staff for Christmas

A FLAGSHIP store has taken on 10 extra members of staff as it prepares for its first Christmas in Hartlepool.

Ian Davies, manager of the BHS department store, in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, said staff are looking forward to their first festive season having missed out on Christmas last year due to building delays.

When it opened in January, the store provided a much-needed employment boost with 50 jobs and that figure is set to be boosted by 10 extra temporary staff for the festive period.

A 2,000 sq-ft section of the 35,000 sq-ft store has been earmarked for Christmas, selling a range of products, including alcohol gifts.

But in order to sell the alcohol-related gifts, such as beers from around the world, the store has had to apply to Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing department for a premises licence.

If approved, BHS will be able to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises.

Mr Davies said: “We are really looking forward to launching the high-grade Christmas range with 2,000 sq-ft of dedicated space and all the ranges at the front of the store.

“Everyone we spoke to said they were really disappointed that we weren’t here last year and this will be our first Christmas trading in Hartlepool.

“We are really looking forward to it and people can do their Christmas shopping for the whole family.”

The Christmas section of the store is due to open this week and bosses are hopeful the premises licence will be approved soon in order for them to sell the alcohol-related gifts.

Mr Davies said trading continues to be strong almost 10 months after the store first opened.

The store was due to open before Christmas but the launch was put back due to building delays before BHS took control of the site, which used to house Woolworths before it closed in December 2008.

Mr Davies, who has been with BHS for 14 years and moved from the Middlesbrough store, added: “Trade has continued to be strong and we are really happy with the reaction that we have received here in Hartlepool.

“The store has gone from strength to strength and we are expecting a good Christmas period.

“People from the North East have a tradition of finding the money for Christmas presents even when times are tough.”

Earlier this year, bosses revealed that around 1,000 people had applied for the 50 jobs the store created and more than 600 job hunters were invited for an interview.

Speaking at the launch, Mayor Stuart Drummond hailed the new national chain store as a “major coup” for the town.