A NEW flagship store has finally opened its doors to the delight of shoppers – and the 50 staff who managed to secure jobs.
The BHS store at Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, in Hartlepool, officially opened yesterday morning with shoppers flocking to see what was on offer.
Bosses revealed that around 1,000 people had applied for the 50 jobs the store created and more than 600 jobhunters were invited for an interview.
Mayor Stuart Drummond was on hand to perform the ribbon-cutting duties and he hailed the new national chain store as a “major coup” for the town.
Store manager Ian Davies, who has been with BHS for 14 years and moved from the Middlesbrough store, said: “It is a fantastic store and the finish is outstanding.
“This is a really exciting opportunity and I have been like a big kid at Christmas walking round looking at the store.
“The interest has been huge, we saw that with around 1,000 applications for the 50 jobs. We had more than 600 in for interview, then we finally selected the 50 to get the jobs.”
Mayor Drummond said: “I am delighted that this day is finally here.
“It is a big coup for the shopping centre and hopefully it will act as a catalyst for other high-street chains to come to Hartlepool.
“Now it is up to the people of Hartlepool to make it a success.”
Shopping centre manager, Mark Rycraft, said: “There has been a big build up to this particular day and we are delighted the store is now open.
“You get a real feel for the amount of time and money that has been invested in this store when you walk around inside.
“This will no doubt act as a catalyst for the shopping centre moving forward.”
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.
Mr Rycraft added: “BHS did not want to rush the process and realised that it was best to get Christmas out of the way and open in January.”
Mr Davies said: “The fact that we didn’t open before Christmas did disappoint some people, but this is a second bite of the cherry.
“We get to trade all year and still spend our first Christmas in Hartlepool at the end of it.”
To mark the opening of the new 35,000 sq ft department store, the centre is hosting four days of entertainment including dance acts, musical performances and a series of unique meet-and-greets with larger than life characters.
There is entertainment from the Vegetable Nannie, piano-playing nun Musical Ruth and performances from members of Hartlepool’s Red Dreams charity.
Other entertainment lined up for the opening weekend includes Granny Tourismos, Digital Paparazzi, The Ab Fab Ladies and performances from Val Armstrong School of Performing Arts.
There will also be music from the Bishop Auckland and District Pipe and Drum Band and live broadcasts from TFM Radio.
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