AN archery firm is creating North-East jobs as it expands into the region.

Merlin Archery is opening a base in Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

Bosses say the move will allow it to tap into the North-East’s thriving archery scene.

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The company, founded in 1985, supplies bows and arrows to enthusiasts across the world.

It hopes to open its North-East site in August, creating an initial four jobs.

The firm, which has headquarters in Loughborough, Leicestershire, says it could eventually double its North-East workforce.

Ben Jones, director, said: “We have been around for a long time and made bows used by world champions.

“However, in the last few years we have moved into the retail side, which is going very well.

“The North-East is a natural place to move into; there are a lot of archers and the sport is strong.

“But there is no real service for them and people sometimes have to travel a long way.

“What we want to have is a quality shop that gives them what they need.

“There are enough archers in the North-East, across County Durham and North Yorkshire, to justify a shop.”

Mr Jones, whose father Chris started the business, said the sport was increasingly grateful to the film industry, with The Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games films awakening people’s passion for the sport.

He added: “We had a boost from the London Olympics in 2012, but we also have a lot to thank Hollywood for, with archery seeming to feature in a number of movies these days.

“Films like The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Rings are highlighting archery and it’s now a cool thing to do.

“People are wanting to be just like Legolas from Lord of the Rings.”

Figures show more than 30,000 people take part in archery in the UK, including County Durham's Alan Wills, who competed at London 2012.

The UK has a long history with the sport, with a bow dating back to 2690BC found in Somerset.

However, it only after the Norman invasion in 1066 that the longbow was developed as a weapon of war and archery became widely practiced.