WILKINSONS is getting its latest Wearside branch a flying start.
The chain launched its latest store in Washington Galleries yesterday, helping bring an extra 79 jobs to the area.
Sunderland’s Deputy Mayor and Mayoress, councillors Robert and Juliana Heron were on hand to officially open the new shop.
The pair started the day of celebrations by cutting the ceremonial ribbon alongside representatives from the Sunderland Royal Navy Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Wilkinsons’ head of retail Robin Lassiter, chief financial officer Ian Ellis and store manager Wendy Gray.
The first 50 shoppers through the tills also received a free summer beauty pack, including a “Wilko” own range body butter and hair mist.
Entertainer Tony Junior was in attendance to entertain shoppers with magic tricks, and a candyfloss vendor was also situated outside the store to hand out free samples.
The Great North Air Ambulance is the store’s chosen charity of the year and a charity raffle gave shoppers a chance to win a hamper full of products including Jubilee-themed partyware, kitchen products and homewares.
Manager Wendy Gray said: “The team has been dedicated to making everything perfect for the store launch and we have been looking forward to welcoming our new customers through the doors.”
The celebrations will continue on Saturday, when Sunderland AFC mascot Deliah the Cat will attend the store to greet young shoppers, Louby Balloony will also be one hand to perform balloon modelling tricks, and free chocolate chip muffins will be handed out to early-bird customers.
A complimentary face painter will be outside the store on Wessington Square between 10am and 4pm, while a craft table will also be set up on the square, to allow children to create their own works of art. The first 100 children to visit the stall will receive a free Wilko Colour Time Magic Painting Book.