Hundreds turn out for opening of new Next store
Hundreds of people took the chance to be the first to look around a new-look store.
People camped out overnight to be first in line for the opening of the new Next store at Silverlink shopping park with the first 20 receiving golden envolopes containing vouchers between £5 and £100.
The store is on Silverlink Point – the £30m expanded section of the retail park which is also home to Sofology, Hobbycraft and Wren Kitchens.
Good Morning Britain TV presenter for ITV Tyne Tees and Border regions, Rachel Sweeney, was on hand to perform the official opening.
The 40,774 sq ft store is the first of its kind in the north east as it brings fashion, home and a garden department all under one roof – although the garden department is not due to open until next Spring – while also features a Costa coffee.
The expanded park was created by landlords The Crown Estate on the site of the former Travelodge hotel.
Mark Russell, store manager, said: “It’s been an unbelievable and phenomenal opening.
“It’s the first hybrid store in the north east, so is the first to have fashion, home and garden departments.
“This has been three years in the making from planning it when we heard the former hotel was going to be demolished.
“We were looking for a store in the north east prior to the hotel going. When The Crown Estate purchased the land we went to them with our plans and three years later here we are.
“The last 12 weeks have been hectic. The team have been brilliant, everyone has played their part.
“We’ve been able to create 35 new jobs and they have all been great.”
He added: “Customers have been quizzing us for months about when the move was happening and what it is going to be like here.
“The new store is three times the size of the old one.
“It’s a whole new shopping concept. We opened the old store 13 years ago and things have moved on since then.
“One of the biggest differences is we have a much larger home section.”
Among those at the opening was Alison Morton, who won the News Guardian competition to receive a £250 Next gift card.