DOZENS of new jobs have been created with the opening of two new stores just yards apart.
Yorkshire-based Poundworld has chosen to open its first south coast shop in the Meridian Centre, Havant, on September 18.
On the same day Boots Opticians opens opposite meaning a boost of more than 40 new jobs in the town centre.
It comes as a multi-million pound expansion of nearby Solent Retail Park is given the go-ahead – which is being seen as further evidence of the town’s regeneration.
Rob Fryer is the manager of the Meridian Centre.
With next week’s openings it will be the first time the ground floor has been completely let.
He said: ‘Things are definitely looking up.
‘It’s the first time in three-and-a-half years the downstairs has been at full capacity.
‘And I’m in talks with some major retailers about the last remaining units upstairs.
‘It will be great to see Poundworld there. It’s the first time they have been on the south coast.
‘Retail is showing big signs of recovery. I would like to think Poundworld feels Havant is the perfect location for them to grow and do well here.
‘Obviously there is the Solent Retail Park development too.
‘Personally, I think retail parks add to the offer. Without them Havant town centre would be pretty dead.’
The Meridian Centre was built at the end of the 1980s and never managed the success of shopping centres in Portsmouth and Fareham.
It changed ownership several times as the landlords struggled to fill the units.
But Inkworld has moved from Market Parade to the top floor of the shopping centre and will soon be followed by Skoolkit because a large part of Market Parade is going to be demolished to make way for a high-rise apartment block.
Councillor David Guest, deputy leader of Havant Borough Council, said: ‘I think it’s absolutely brilliant.
‘It’s really good to see it so well let, with more than 40 new jobs.
‘There was a long time with a lot of voids in there but now they are almost full and it’s a sure sign of prosperity and regeneration of the town centre.’
Although some jobs have been filled at Poundworld there are still managerial vacancies.
Go to poundworld.net.