A MAJOR national retailer is expected to exchange contracts on the former Dressers shop in Darlington within the next couple of weeks, the D&S Times has been told.

Developers Terrace Hill, who bought the site two years ago, confirmed yesterday that contracts were expected to be exchanged shortly which would change the shop into a large departmental store.

Chain store Next is known to have been interested in acquiring the site for some months.

A spokesman for Terrace Hill, said: "There is a strong possibility that work will begin on the new store before Christmas.

"All I can say is that it will be a large departmental store and we are negotiating exchange of contracts with a national multiple retailer which hopefully will be signed shortly.

"We have building contractors lined up to start work within the next two to three weeks."