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Budget fashion rises from Woolies' ashes

PUBLISHED: 16:49 13 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:42 23 August 2010

BROKE: The High Street store was closed in December 2008 as the company was crippled by the credit crunch.

BROKE: The High Street store was closed in December 2008 as the company was crippled by the credit crunch.

THE site of a former Woolworths store is set to reopen as the home to a new fashion chain, creating 22 jobs. Life & Style, opens its doors at the revamped corner site at King Street and High Street, Gravesend, on May 28. The Gravesend site ahas been pi

THE site of a former Woolworths store is set to reopen as the home to a new fashion chain, creating 22 jobs.

Life & Style, opens its doors at the revamped corner site at King Street and High Street, Gravesend, on May 28.

The Gravesend site ahas been picked as the firm's first English location because bosses are aiming at value-focused shoppers and they want to target High Streets with potential.

Spokesperson for Life and Style, Diana Stephenson, said: "They are looking for town centres with value-focused shoppers.

"Gravesend has had a tough time, and they are looking to going into areas to put the excitement and dynamism back in High Streets.

"We are coming out of recession - so let's have some fun again. It is just a feel-good, positive thing."

The very first Life & Style shop was opened in Carmarthen in Wales on St George's Day. The brand has come out of the old Ethel Austin stable - whose shops in Grays and Chatham closed when it went into administration - which came out of administration in February.

Ms Stephenson said the old Woolworths site was perfect for what the company wanted to do - it was a big, open store format and in the centre of town.

It had already been identified by Ethel Austin as a possible site before the firm hit cash trouble.

Fashion will include clothes for women and children, and homewares will feature everything from candles to furniture.

On opening day the company plans events such as fire-eating and street performances.

Company retail director John Ferguson said: "We are committed to making a contribution to the town's shopping scene."

The new 15,000 sq ft unit is expected to create 22 new jobs.

Simon Hookway, economic development manager at Gravesham Borough Council, said: "The empty Woolies store at the head of Gravesend High Street has been like a missing gap tooth in the town's retail offering.

"The council has striven for a long time to get a new retailer into those premises, and we are delighted there appears to be success on that front.

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