HAVING lain empty for months, the empty Woolworths store in Christchurch High Street will be opened as a discount store in the next few weeks.

Contracts were exchanged on Friday for the 99p Stores Ltd to move into the premises, which have lain empty since January, but which will hopefully open in around three to four weeks.

The company has signed a 10-year lease and hopes to create around 30-35 full and part-time jobs.

Graham Barnes, publicity officer for the 99p Stores said: “We hope that Christchurch will be the magical 99th store, which will be a massive event.

“We’ve come to the region many times as we know that Dorset people love a bargain.”

Terry Atkinson, secretary of Christchurch Chamber of Trade said: “I am really pleased to see the arrival of another highly popular outlet on the High Street.

“In these challenging times, consumers are inevitably looking for the lowest cost, and this move will attract perhaps a similar footfall to Woolworths in its heyday.

“Of course, the new store will pose a direct competition to some of the existing shops, but I am sure they will rise to the challenge.”

Paul Riley, economic development manager at Christchurch Borough Council said: “This is excellent news and yet another boost of confidence for the town centre.

“Despite the recession several new retailers have opened in Christchurch in recent months and others are due to follow.

“The 99p Store has proved to be a winning concept. It is similar to Woolworths in some ways and we wish them every success in Christchurch.”

  • The company is looking for someone to cut the opening ribbon and complete a 99-second trolley dash around the shop.

Entrants need to say in up to nine words why they love a bargain and email christchurch@gbpublicityltd. com by August 14.

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