MORE than 100 new jobs are on the way to Northumberland as a retail giant prepares to open massive new superstores in two neighbouring towns.
The new state-of-the-art Morrisons stores in Blyth and Morpeth represent an investment by the company totaling around £35m.
They are replacing two existing and much smaller supermarkets, safeguarding hundreds of jobs and creating more than 100 new ones.
The new £15m Morrisons superstore in Blyth town centre will open its doors to customers on Monday and will be about 60% bigger than the one it has replaced on the same Regent Street site. It will provide 59 new jobs and is aimed at helping to regenerate Blyth by creating an anchor shopping facility to retain more people and their spending power.
Morrisons worked with Jobcentre Plus and the Northumberland College to ensure that 37 of the new posts went to people who were previously unemployed, even running a pre-employment course for people to get experience of working in a supermarket. The rest of the 221 staff have transferred from the old store.
Work continues on completing the £24m superstore at Low Stanners in Morpeth, which is expected to open this summer depending on the rate of progress on fitting it out.
It will employ about 300 people and create a similar number of new posts to the Blyth store. It will replace the chain’s existing supermarket in Morpeth.
They are both part of Morrisons flagship Store of the Future concept – and incorporate the latest “misting” technology to keep produce fresh for customers. The Blyth store will open its doors at 9am on Monday, when representatives from Morrisons official charity partner, Save the Children, will help cut a ribbon.
General manager, Ian Brocklehurst, said: “One of the best things about the new store is that it retains all of the best parts of the old one, alongside new additions like the cafe and oven fresh counter. The team have worked hard to train as specialists in areas such as wine, butchery and bakery, and the fresh market concept means that many products are created by these specialists in-store each morning.
“We’re all looking forward to showing our loyal customers around the new store, as well as welcoming new shoppers into Blyth.”
County council’s executive member for regeneration, Tom Brechany, said the new store represents a vital step towards delivering a town centre that better meets the needs of local residents and visitors.