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Traders upbeat at High Street store's revamp

PUBLISHED: 11:22 27 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:43 23 August 2010

HIGH HOPES: An old Woolworths shop.

HIGH HOPES: An old Woolworths shop.

HIGH Street traders hope the new store replacing Woolworths will breathe fresh life into the town. Fashion and Homeware store Life & Style is set to open its first English store on the corner of the High Street and New Road tomorrow, almost 18 months aft

HIGH Street traders hope the new store replacing Woolworths will breathe fresh life into the town.

Fashion and Homeware store Life & Style is set to open its first English store on the corner of the High Street and New Road tomorrow, almost 18 months after the famous chain was axed.

The recession and a loss of footfall following the iconic store's closure has seen businesses such as the Market Tavern and Cheep pet store close in recent weeks, and business owners are hopeful the Life & Style can turn the tide.

Bob Atkinson, of Stamps and Hobbies, said: "It has been hard during the recession and in particular the last two years. We have really had to buckle down and work hard to make it through.

"Any shop that starts to bring extra footfall is good for the future for the town in general. We really need to get all the shops down here filled. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction."

The shop will employ 22 members of staff and be officially opened by Gravesham MP Adam Holloway.

Street performers will entertain shoppers and the first 500 customers will be greeted with £5 off vouchers.

Jackie Byrne, owner of Billies Boutiques, opened her fashion store on the High Street seven weeks ago and believes the area is set to thrive.

She said: "I have big plans for this area, I think we can turn it into a mini Brighton Lanes with a bit of work and make the High Street the centre of the town again. At the moment people are only drawn to the top of New Road, so this could make all the difference. It is fantastic."

Plans for an Ethel Austin store at the site were announced at the end of last year, but the brand's sink into administration ended those hopes.

Mike Snelling, Gravesham Borough Council leader, said: "I am absolutely delighted that the gap in our town has been filled.

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