11/09/2002

Jobs in store at proposed Ards B&Q Warehouse

Home improvements giant B&Q claims that at least 200 jobs could be created in Newtownards if plans for a new B&Q Warehouse store get the go-ahead.

The DIY chain proposes to open a 100,000 sq ft store with a 30,000 sq ft garden centre and 20,000 sq ft building products yard on the site of the former Scrabo High School.

The scheme is being developed by JH Turkington of Portadown and as well as the B&Q store, includes two restaurant units.

Confirming that a planning application has now been lodged, David Childs, Regional Development Manager for B&Q said: “Newtownards is well placed to complement B&Q's regional store network and we believe a B&Q store at Scrabo will add to the first-class shopping offer which already exists in the town.

“We fully intend to work with the Council, the Chamber of Trade and the local community to ensure that the benefits for the town are maximised. To this end, we recently presented the scheme to members of Ards Borough Council and we would welcome a similar dialogue with other interested parties.”

B&Q currently has seven stores in the province and has announced plans for further new stores in Belfast and Sprucefield.

Mr Childs said that the Scrabo school site was at a strategic junction which enables access from both the Ards Peninsula and the east side of Belfast and was chosen by B&Q after a lengthy search.

“A flagship store in this location will draw trade into Newtownards without damaging the health of the town centre and will help to redress the balance of trade with Bangor in particular,” he said.

Jim McKeag, Managing Director, JH Turkington, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to further develop what is already a very successful relationship with B&Q.

“As well as the 200 permanent jobs being created by B&Q, this scheme will also create in the region of 100-150 construction jobs, which is great news for a town which through no fault of its own, has had to face extensive job losses in recent years.”

If the planning application for the proposed £20 million scheme is successful, it is hoped that work can commence on site by summer 2003 and B&Q would open for business by spring 2004.

A progressive employer, B&Q is recognised for its ‘over 50’s’ policy, which means that older, experienced people in the community, who still have a lot to offer but find it difficult to secure employment, are given the opportunity to get back to work.

(SP)

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