MORE than 300 jobs could be created after retail giants signed an historic store share deal in Wigan.
Finally confirming speculation first aired in the Wigan Evening Post four months ago, Morrison’s and B&Q said they hoped to create a new shopping concept at the latter’s Frith Street hypermarket.
Critically the venture, a plan for which is expected to be submitted within weeks, will not involve the closure of any other stores nearby.
The plan is for a Morrison’s food hall to open up within the re-ordered B&Q which is currently occupying a massive 100,000ft sq of space. B&Q would then take up 60 per cent of the space and Morrison’s 40.
The DIY specialist says such a move would not involve a reduction in its vast stock, simply more efficient use of available space.
Planting a large Morrison’s, which already has a presence at both Ince and in Wigan town centre, is bound to throw down the gauntlet to the nearby Asda superstore and an unopposed planning application looks unlikely.
The venture was given a cautious welcome by council chiefs today who said they were encouraged by a plan to create so many jobs in such straitened times, but would of course need to see all the details.
Scott Sharp, Divisional Director West, B&Q, said: “We want to offer our Wigan customers the best that we can in home improvement and the new size store will include new features and services that will not only inspire customers but will also help them to undertake their home improvement projects. This deal will enable us to continue to serve our Wigan customers to the highest possible standard and we are committed to working with Morrisons to enhance the whole shopping experience on the site.”
Purposely designed for Wigan, bosses say the Fresh Format Morrison’s foodstore would provide the chain’s full range of goods and services and complement the company’s existing Galleries store.
James Brook, Head of Acquisitions in the North for Morrisons said: “This agreement with B&Q is great news for Wigan as well as Morrison’s. Our new store will create new local job opportunities, all with real career and training prospects. We believe our unique offer of high quality, fresh food at great prices is what makes us stand out against our competitors.”
Coun David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s deputy leader and regeneration portfolio holder, said: “The creation of 300 jobs is something we would be pleased to see and there has always been a desire to see extra businesses go onto that land, particularly now we have had improvements to the road network nearby.
“But we will need to see the details of the planning application first.”
It is believed that similar plans are to be rolled out at almost 100 stores across the country.