Whistle-stop visit for boss

Range owner Chris Dawson (right) with Hartlepool store manager Kevin Blanchard
Range owner Chris Dawson (right) with Hartlepool store manager Kevin Blanchard

AN impressed company boss made a whistle-stop visit to his recently opened Hartlepool branch as part of a nationwide tour of all 74 stores.

Chris Dawson, the owner and founder of home and garden chain The Range, was in town after arriving in style by helicopter.

His arrival was warmly welcomed by store manager Kevin Blanchard who said: “It was a great visit and it is always lovely to see Chris.

“He is a whirlwind and an inspiration. He is the type of guy who lives, sleeps and eats his business.”

He said Mr Dawson prides himself on knowing many of his 5000 staff personally, including most at the Hartlepool branch on the Tees Bay Retail Park, in Brenda Road, which has 150 workers.

It opened last year and is helping the firm to achieve Plymouth-based Mr Dawson’s dream of reaching a £1bn pound turnover.

Kevin said: “The Hartlepool people have taken it to their hearts and they love it.

“It is a nice and expansive store. I think they often believe in Hartlepool that they will get a watered down version of what stores elsewhere will look like, but that is not the case with us.

“We are not like that. We have got a different dynamic and we have given people a different view.”

The discount retail store, which offers DIY, homewares, furniture, lighting, arts and crafts and gardenware, was unveiled last August. The Hartlepool Mail told how more than 2,500 hopeful people put their names forward for the 150 jobs on offer.

Staff at The Range found themselves dealing with applications being sent via post, email and even social media sites. Thousands applied before a date of application had even been released.

At the time of their arrival in Hartlepool, shop bosses said the town was “just what they are looking for” and praised Hartlepool Borough Council for helping to bring about the boost.

The Range has already opened a further four stores this year and another 15 are planned for 2013.

Mr Dawson has enjoyed national media limelight this week. He was the star of BBC Two’s ‘Peter Jones Meets…’ on Sunday where he met the host and ‘Dragons Den’ star Peter Jones.