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Morrisons and B&Q team up to create 300 jobs

HUNDREDS of jobs are set to be created under plans for a pioneering new outlet that will see a DIY store combine with a supermarket.

B&Q and Morrisons have announced a deal that will see the two come together in a combined facility in Meir Park.

The two businesses say the scheme – which is subject to planning approval – will create more than 300 jobs with Morrisons.
And if the venture is given the go-ahead it will represent fresh competition for neighbouring supermarkets Tesco and Aldi.

At the moment, the site is solely occupied by B&Q with 130 workers employed at the store. While bosses admit the operation at the B&Q will be reduced as part of the project, no decision has been made in reducing the number of staff.

Plans – which will be shown off to the public during a public consultation yet to be announced – will see a 56,500 square foot store and a new 30,000 square foot garden centre.
James Brook, Morrisons' head of acquisitions in the north, said: "This agreement with B&Q is great news for Stoke-on-Trent as well as Morrisons. 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."
Scott Sharp, B&Q's divisional director for the west, said: "We want to offer our Meir Park customers the best that we can 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 Meir Park customers to the highest possible standard and we are committed to working with Morrisons to enhance the whole shopping experience on the site." Close to the proposed new look store by the A50 are also a number of business units. In 2010 Gazeley UK was given permission to build on the former Johnson Matthey site in Meir Park and create a huge warehouse.

Meir Park councillor Abi Brown, a member of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: "The creation of 300 new jobs – many of which will go to people in the surrounding area – is a good thing.
"I am looking forward to the full details of this scheme. While I am positive about the new jobs, what will be at the forefront of people's minds is the issue of traffic.

It may cause issues on roads in Meir Park and on the A50 and I will be looking to find out what the developers propose to do to deal with that."
Resident Fred Ball, aged 72, of Meir Park, said: "My concern is the traffic as it gets very busy for people queuing to get on the Tesco."

Source: Dave Knapper

22 July 2013
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