UP TO 150 jobs are being created as two new bargain stores open in Didcot and Abingdon.

A B&M Home Store is opening at Fairacres Retail Park in Abingdon on September 18.

And two days later the chain, which already has shops in Cowley and Wantage, will open another Home Store with a garden centre in the former Focus building on the Wallingford Road Retail Park in Didcot.

The bargain chain says the two new shops will create up to 150 jobs.

Emma East, spokeswoman for Didcot promotion agency Didcot First, said: “I think it is great news.

“The Focus site has been empty for a while. I think this a great opportunity for another company to move into Didcot.

“More competition is a good thing.”

She added: “Those industries are doing very well in this economic climate, and I think it will be popular.”

The 31,000 sq ft bargain stores will sell low-price food, toiletries, toys, soft furnishings and electrical goods.

Oxfordshire county councillor for Didcot West Nick Hards said: “Everyone in Didcot loves a bargain.

“It will be good to have that site in use. I think it has been empty for so long people have forgotten that vacant unit is there.”

The retail park is also home to Tesco and a branch of Halfords.

Mr Hards added: “It will be nice that people who use Tesco have somewhere else to shop on the same site.”

Former DIY shop Focus closed in 2008, the company blaming the “difficult economic climate”.

Abingdon business and civic leaders have raised concerns about out-of-town retail outlets taking shoppers away from the town centre.

And Abingdon Town Council leader Sandy Lovatt said he could not see people “beating a path” to the new Abingdon store at the expense of the town centre.

Mr Lovatt said: “We would like to see more ‘destination shops’ in the town centre, a Next or something like that which will bring people into the town.”

B&M area manager for Oxfordshire Darryl Neville said: “We’re really proud to be opening not one but two new stores across Oxfordshire, creating up to 150 new jobs and playing our part in the local community.

“We are excited to get the doors open this month and have two teams of colleagues who are willing to provide great value products and world class service to our customers.”

There are vacancies at both stores. For more information, and to apply, go to bmstores/careers

Ready for a move on the continent

Entrepreneur Malcolm Billington opened his first B&M bargain store in 1978 in Blackpool, Lancashire.

The company was taken over by Simon and Bobby Arora in December 2004, at which time it ran 21 stores

The firm now runs more than 370 shops and employs some 16,000 staff.

This year B&M listed on the London Stock Exchange and set its sights on expanding into continental Europe. 

The listing followed B&M’s acquisition of a majority stake in German discount retailer JA Woll.

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