A HOME-SHOPPING superstore that has brought around 150 new jobs has opened its doors to customers in Hartlepool with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Range, based at Tees Bay Retail Park, off Brenda Road, in Hartlepool, was officially opened by its multi-millionaire owner Chris Dawson.
The opening was also attended by chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher and new staff at the store.
Mr Dawson, who owns 65 other Range stores throughout the country, said he was delighted to be opening a store in the town and could foresee a promising future for it and the retail park.
He said: “It’s amazing that we’re finally here, I’ve been waiting 15 years for this and I’m delighted.
“This is store number 66 and it’s very special to me. This is a rough site, but we’ve invested a lot of money here and it’s a lovely store.
“Most of the staff are from Hartlepool and they’re a fantastic bunch, very enthusiastic.”
He added: “We’ve had brilliant support from the council, planners and police and we’re very grateful for that. That is how you get investment into an area.
“Now we are here the site will fill up, I’m sure of that. We’re hoping to develop this site into a premier shopping centre. It won’t happen overnight, but I can forsee what’s coming.”
And Coun Akers-Belcher said: “It’s great to see so many new jobs and people from the town excited to start work. From an economy point of view it’s really important and from an environmental point of view it’s great to see some investment with The Range coming to Hartlepool.
“It will hopefully attract many shoppers from the town and from further afield as well.”
The Range sells DIY, homewares, furniture, lighting, arts and crafts and garden goods and there were dozens of shoppers waiting outside the new store to take a look inside.
Karen Howarth, 49, of Brough Court, Clavering said she thought it was “brilliant” news for the town.
The mum-of-one said: “It’s fantastic, there’s lots of stuff for interior design that will appeal to a lot of people.
“I think it will be really popular.”
And mum-of-three, grandmother-of-eight and great-grandmother-of-18 Vonny Sutheran, 74, said: “It’s a beautiful store and this one might bring more business here. We needed this store because its dire down here.”
Mr Dawson, reported to be the wealthiest person in the South West, with a £300m fortune, has featured on Channel 4 programme Jobs Report, joining a selected panel of leading business professionals to talk about the task of creating 2.5m British jobs.