HARTLEPOOL leaders have welcomed news the town is set to gain from 150 jobs with the opening of a new home and garden superstore.
National chain The Range will create full and part-time vacancies when it opens the new shop at Tees Bay Retail Park, in the town’s Brenda Road.
Town dignitaries have welcomed the news, which comes at a time when Hartlepool has the third highest level of jobless benefit claimants in the country and second highest in the North-East.
It also comes after the Mail launched the Work in Progress campaign to highlight the plight of jobseekers in the town.
Shop bosses say the town has “just what they are looking for” and praised Hartlepool Borough Council for helping to bring about the boost.
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “At the moment any investment that brings jobs is to be welcomed.
“The Range is a well-known name and I’m sure many people in Hartlepool will already use the store at Portrack Lane in Stockton.
“It is great that they have decided to come to town and I hope they are not the last big name to come here.”
The store, which offers DIY, homewares, furniture, lighting, arts and crafts and gardenware, is expected to open later in the summer.
There will be opportunities for full-time and part-time vacancies, from store and department managers to warehouse and administration staff, with local people already applying for these positions.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “I think this is really welcome news on the jobs front at a time of high unemployment.
“My understanding is that Hartlepool Borough Council has been working closely with the company as a means of bringing them to the town.
“It shows the importance at a time of economic recession that we have a good and vibrant economic team with the town and within the council.”
Latest figures show 4,627 people claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance in April in the town, which is eight per cent of the working population.
The town has the third highest percentage of claimants nationwide, behind Middlesbrough, with 7,576, or 8.1 per cent, and Kingston-upon-Hull, which has 15,143 jobless claimants accounting for 8.4 per cent.
The Range is owned by Plymouth-based entrepreneur Chris Dawson, who is bucking the country’s unemployment trend by pioneering the way for creating job opportunities.
Mr Dawson said: “We are very pleased to be able to create a number of local jobs and are confident this store will play a big part in the continued success of The Range brand across the UK.
“I would like to thank the council for welcoming us to Hartlepool with such open arms.”
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.
He added: “Whenever we open a new Range superstore, it is a case of finding the place, right time and right price.
“Hartlepool was just what we were looking for.
“It won’t stop here, that I can guarantee you.
“We are now on our 66th store, with many more in the pipeline for 2012.”