A TOTAL of 1,500 people have applied for 70 jobs at a new store in Bishop Auckland.

Workers are queuing up to fill the posts at the Wilkinson home and gardens store in Bishop Auckland, which will not open for three months.

The company is taking over the former Asda site after the supermarket move to the other end of town.

Neighbouring retailers hope its arrival will provide a boost for trade.

Wilkinson managers predict the scheduled opening in August will breathe new life into the centre of Bishop Auckland.

Store manager Keith Short said: "We have had a great first response from the people of Bishop Auckland to news that Wilkinson is coming to town.

"So far we have had more than 1,500 applications for the full range of retail jobs on offer, which is not surprising, because as one of the fastest growing high street retailers in the UK we can offer a great career."

Wilkinson is one of dozens of businesses which are backing the Shopping For A Future campaign launched by The Northern Echo and Bishop Auckland Chamber of Trade.

Its 20,624 ft store will be the centrepiece of the Newgate Centre, where a £2m refurbishment, funded by the Asda chain, is taking shape.

The renovation will see glass elevators replacing a travellator, the installation of a new lavatory block and provision of an office for the centre manager.

Mr Short said: "Wilkinson is delighted to be arriving in Bishop Auckland and we are now looking forward to taking on our new team members and contributing to the growth of the local economy when we open."

Some key positions at Wilkinson are still available and details can be found at Bishop Auckland Job Centre, in the Market Place, or on the company website at www.wilko.co.uk.