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New stores set to fill empty shops in Great Yarmouth town centre

PUBLISHED: 19:32 25 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:37 25 August 2011

The Ethel Austin store, which is set to become Poundland in early September

The Ethel Austin store, which is set to become Poundland in early September

Archant

TOWN centre bosses have welcomed plans to fill vacant shop units in Great Yarmouth.

The former Ethel Austin and Woolworth premises in Market Place is set to become a new Poundland shop, with the cut-price retailer moving out of its existing home in Market Gates shopping centre to take advantage of the larger floor space on offer.

And the British Heart Foundation (BHF) will be moving into the former Coopers DIY shop in North Market Road to open a store selling furniture and electrical goods, which will create four new jobs and 20 voluntary roles.

Town Centre manager Jonathan Newman welcomed the moves, adding the growth of cut-price stores reflected a growing trend where people were looking to save money due to the economic downturn.

He said: “The positive thing is that it is one less empty retail unit in the town. The situation that retail is in at the moment is that with the current economic climate, people are looking to save money; so the type of shops expanding are the shops offering discounts – and that is just the way it is at the moment.

“It is good that retailers are interested in filling empty shops in Yarmouth.”

Mr Newman was also encouraged by the percentage of empty business units in Yarmouth town centre which stood at 10pc, one percent less than the national average.

He added the government’s retail guru, Mary Portas, had been liaising with the Association of Town Centre Managers as part of a government review, and was set to provide a list of recommendations for reviving town centres hit hard by the recession.

This could include advice on business rates levied by local councils, and how to make use of vacant shop units, such as by leasing them on a temporary basis.

Nick Spencer, manager of Market Gates, said: “We are obviously disappointed in losing a very successful retailer such as Poundland from the centre, but we are happy they have traded extremely well in Market Gates and Great Yarmouth, which has encouraged them to take a much bigger store in the town.”

He was confident Poundland’s departure would not reduce the 135,000 customers a week who visit Market Gates. He added Poundland, which will openin its new premises on Thursday, still held the lease for the shop space close to the main entrance to the shopping centre, and negotiations would be taking place to ensure a new retailer was found to fill it.

Poundland is also set to re-open a store in neighbouring Lowestoft following expansion. Its trading director, David Coxon, said: “We are delighted to announce these new developments in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.”

A BHF spokesman said the charity’s new store should open before Christmas and was among 40 new furniture and electrical shops to be opened by the charity across the country this year.

On offer will be a variety of household goods including suites, sofas, chairs, dining sets, beds and wardrobes plus an array of electrical items including TVs, hi-fis, washing machines, fridges and dishwashers.

All funds raised help fight heart disease, and anyone who wants to donate unwanted goods can use a free collection service, which can be booked online at www.bhf.org.uk/collection.

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