High Street giant takes over former Woolies in Stevenage

A HIGH street giant has taken over a former Woolworths unit, creating up to 100 jobs. Wilkinson will open the doors to its brand new store in Town Square, Stevenage, on Wednesday, November 25. A jobs fair at North Hertfordshire College in Stevenage last

A HIGH street giant has taken over a former Woolworths' unit, creating up to 100 jobs.

Wilkinson will open the doors to its brand new store in Town Square, Stevenage, on Wednesday, November 25.

A jobs fair at North Hertfordshire College in Stevenage last week saw more than 300 applicants for positions at the retail shop.

Town centre manager Tracey Parry called the move a 'coup', saying: "It's great news for the area.

"The unit is right in the heart of the town centre and it is a big unit and we were concerned not to have the same situation as the former Littlewoods, where it's so big it stays empty for such a long time."

She said "it's taken some delicate negotiations to get them in", with officers at Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) at the forefront of discussions. Issues surrounding rear access to the store were proving problematic due to Wilkinson's use of large delivery vehicles, but these matters have now been resolved.

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Mrs Parry said: "Wilkinson was quite keen to come to Stevenage. They feel it is a good town for them to be represented in."

Every year a survey is undertaken in Stevenage town centre to help Stevenage Town Centre Management Company assess its aims and priorities over the coming months. Each year Wilkinson is within the top three stores shoppers would like to see come to the town. Mrs Parry said: "I know at the jobs fair the news generated a huge amount of interest from the public, with people saying how pleased they are that Wilkinson is coming to Stevenage. We are really, really pleased."

Cllr John Gardner, SBC's Executive Member for Regeneration, said: "The council is very pleased to see a well-known retailer such as Wilkinson moving into the town centre.

"We have had discussions with both the landlord's agent and Wilkinson and we have played a major role in facilitating the re-opening of a major store on this high profile site.

"We are also pleased the opening will create over 90 new jobs for local people.

"We are determined to make every effort to bring big name retailers to the town centre.