Plans by Home Bargains to take over Hawick’s Homebase store would almost double the number of staff employed there, it has been revealed.
The discount retailer’s proposed move into the Galalaw Retail Park shop would create 50 full-time jobs, almost twice the workforce of 27 currently employed there by the troubled do-it-yourself chain.
Hawick’s Homebase, opened in 2005, is scheduled to close on Saturday, November 10, a month earlier than first announced, and TJ Morris, the parent company of Home Bargains, hopes to be able to move in soon after that with a view to opening in spring next year.
It reportedly plans to spend £5m on redeveloping the site.
The Liverpool-headquartered firm operates 481 store across the UK, employing around 17,000 workers.
Among them is the £4m store it opened in Galashiels in July, creating dozens of jobs in a 25,000sq ft unit in Stirling Street after relocating from a smaller unit in Channel Street.
It is the chain’s only store in the Borders at present, and, like the planned one in Hawick, it employs a workforce of 50.
Home Bargains’ interest in the soon-to-close store has been welcomed by the town’s MP and councillors.
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont said: “It is hugely encouraging to hear that another company is already keen to take on the property set to be vacated by Homebase.
“While we have had some disappointing closures in recent months, a lot of new investment is coming to Hawick.
“This news is a reflection of the fact that the town is an increasingly attractive place for businesses.
“Home Bargains would be a good fit for taking over the site in Galalaw, and I’d hope it means that at least some of the Homebase staff will be able to find new employment.
“It sounds like we might end up with more jobs at Galalaw than at the moment, which would be an excellent start to 2019 for Hawick.
“I would urge Scottish Borders Council to work with Home Bargains to help get this planning application through as soon as is reasonably possible to try to minimise the amount of time the unit is empty.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall also welcomed the news, saying: “The announcement by Home Bargains that they would like to invest £5m in our town is fantastic news, and I certainly think that a dark cloud may well have been lifted on the Homebase site.
“The possibility of creating 50 full-time jobs is a real shot in the arm for our town, and after speaking with Homebase staff earlier today, the mood amongst some staff is certainly more optimistic in terms of their future.
“We must, however, not lose sight of the fact that, at this stage, a planning application is now live, and it must be allowed to follow the appropriate channels of the council, but I think many people in Hawick will be delighted that such a famous retail discount store is showing such interest in our town.
“I have always been of the belief that the more choice a town can offer, then the greater chance of attracting visitors to the area.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson added: “It is great that another business wants to take over Homebase. Hopefully, they can retain all or as many jobs as possible.”
A spokesperson for Home Bargains said: “TJ Morris are delighted to bring Home Bargains to Galalaw Retail Park in Hawick.
“We are currently in planning to allow us to open the store and look forward to opening in early 2019, all going well.
“This proposal involves a significant investment from TJ Morris, in the region of £5m, with the opportunity to create 50 full-time jobs.
“Following the planned closure of the Homebase store later this year, we are keen to progress with this exciting project as soon as we can.”
A planning application for TJ Morris submitted by Glasgow-based planning consultancy Iceni Projects would see 30% of the 12,600sq m site given over to food retailing,