TRADERS in Bishop Auckland have welcomed news that a discount department store will open before Christmas.

Boyes has confirmed it will take on the former Woolworths site in what its managing director describes as a “significant long-term investment” in the town. The store will create more than 30 jobs.

Andrew Boyes, joint managing director and chairman, said the shop would not affect business or staff at the Newton Aycliffe or Darlington branches.

“We have been working on this for more than a year, dealing with the receivers for Woolworths, and we have finally managed to make an agreement,” he said.

The store is scheduled to open in November, with remedial work starting this week.

“Bishop Auckland is a vibrant and busy town and we have always been keen to have a main store there,” said Mr Boyes.

“We have had letters from customers asking us to open a store in the town. The properties available before now for one reason or another have not been quite right.”

He added: “The shop is in its initial stages, but it will be a bright, attractive, modern store when the doors open.”

The extra business will provide a welcome boost to the town which has been badly hit by the economic downturn.

Many traders have been disappointed that developer Helioscity abandoned plans for a multi-million pound retail project.

Durham County Council and Sunderland-based Gentoo have since redrawn the plans to create offices, leisure facilities and housing, but for some people, retail was the preferred option.

Nick Blackett, of Blackett’s Furniture Store, opposite the planned Boyes, said : “We are over the moon. I think it will regenerate the top end of the street. Without a doubt, this is great news.”

Steve McCormick, Bishop Auckland town centre manager said: “This is really great news for Bishop Auckland town centre.

“Boyes will be a welcome addition to the national and independent stores that Newgate Street already boasts, and offer shoppers an even wider choice of retail outlets.

“Helped along by Durham County Council schemes, such as the empty shop initiative and targeted building improvement grants, the town centre is starting to see some new businesses come in and this bodes well for the future.”