Former Woolworths to be fashion flagship

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A FASHION retailer is to move into Fleetwood's empty Woolworths store.

Steals bargain clothes chain will take over the Lord Street shop – bringing new jobs to the port and a boost to its retail heart.

Woolworths closed its doors in January, along with the firm's other 806 stores, and has been empty ever since.

Steals is investing around 25,000 in refurbishing the shop and will employ eight people. It has not yet fixed an opening date.

Steals' Paul Farman, said: "It's a shop we have been looking at and it could turn out to be the flagship of the business.

"One thing Woolworths did have was good pitches.

"We will start at single figures of jobs and from then on it will depend on trade."

Until three years ago, Steals had a shop on Dock Street in Fleetwood but moved out claiming the rent was too high.

He added: "We traded well in Fleetwood and hope to do so again."

Steals, founded in Blackburn in 1970, sells clothes at budget prices from places such as Top Shop, Top Man, BHS and Debenhams.

It has two branches in Blackburn and others in Abingdon Street in Blackpool, Burnley and Lancaster.

The move has delighted nearby traders who foresee an upturn in business.

Next door to the new Steals is Mobility 2000. Salesman Alan Bennett said: "It's got to be good for Fleetwood.

"We need something to combat Cleveleys and the empty store was an eyesore.

Immediately opposite, Christine MacSymons of the Scotch Bakery, said the area had been quieter since the closure of Woolworths.

She added: "It will get a few more people up this end of town. I'm pleased, definitely. It's going to be much better."

Coun Mark Hamer said: "It's tremendous news. We were worried about what was going to happen but here we have jobs created. Let's hope it's a very profitable business."

Fortunes

Former Woolworths stores across the Fylde have had differing fortunes.

Blackpool-based budget retailers B&Ms took over the St Annes Square site just weeks after the chain folded, while its Talbot Road site in Blackpool has become a Home Bargains as has its Victoria Road West store in Cleveleys.

The former Bank Hey Street Woolworths in Blackpool remains empty despite being linked with Iceland and Tesco.