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Top retail chain on way to Yarmouth

PUBLISHED: 19:21 15 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:18 03 July 2010

GREAT Yarmouth's gap-toothed retail smile had a ring of confidence again this week with the announcement that a major fashion chain is taking

over the town's former Woolworths store.

GREAT Yarmouth's gap-toothed retail smile had a ring of confidence again this week with the announcement that a major fashion chain is taking

over the town's former Woolworths store.

Value retailer Ethel Austin - a well known name outside East Anglia - wants to bring its home and clothing range to the 20,000sq ft store in Market Place and is planning a major refit.

The group, which started as a small shop in Liverpool in 1934 and is named after its founder, is undergoing a major expansion drive, opening up to four stores a week in the run up to Christmas.

The Yarmouth store will be the first in Norfolk to combine with Au Naturale, which offers home-ware goods and soft furnishings usually in a retail park setting, creating around 20 jobs.

A spokesman said the chain, which has 300 stores mainly in the West, Midlands and Merseyside had cherry picked the best of the old Woolworths stores, targeting areas where it believed their re-launched discount brand would do well.

Jonathan Newman, Yarmouth town centre manager, hailed it as “superb” news, adding that Ethel Austin and its companion store Au Naturale would be a welcome addition to the town's shopping mix, especially because of the new children's ranges, depleted when Mothercare and Adam's Kids closed down.

He said: “If anybody was going to get in there it would have had to have been before Christmas otherwise it would have been another seven or eight months. I heard they were coming, I just did not know where.

“We know that people are struggling that side of the Market Place and it looks like Ethel Austin has a big enough offer to attract people along that side. It is not a trader that relies on passing traffic, it will draw people there and is part of the value market that is doing well in the current economy.”

Meanwhile franchise food chain Subway is taking the long-vacant Shoe Express store on the corner of Victoria Arcade, helping to enliven the precinct and aid its fightback to financial health, although the effect on nearby cafes is uncertain.

Ethel Austin was bought out of administration in May 2008 by the ex-boss of clothing chain MK One, Elaine McPherson, who pledged an overhaul of the business.

The Yarmouth store will be among the first of a new breed of combined Ethel Austin and Au Naturale stores.

The company is looking for a store manager, assistant manager, supervisor and part-time sales assistants. To apply forward you CV to vacancies@ethelaustin.co.uk.

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