The finishing touches are being put into a bargain store which will breathe new life into an empty shop.
B&M will open in the former B&Q unit in Ryhope Road, Sunderland, at 9am tomorrow, with customers already keen to get through its doors peering into the building as its staff prepare to welcome its first visitors.
The business will employ 79 workers, with 15 of those ex-B&Q workers who lost their jobs when it closed the business last November.
It will become the biggest of the firm’s stores in the North East.
The transformation into a B&M began three weeks ago, when the new recruits, team members who have made the move from other branches and those who are returning to the shop in its new guise.
Some of the newcomers have been taken on through Ingeus, a Hendon-based organisation which focuses on getting people back into work.
We’re so proud of the team, it’s absolutely amazing to look at it now, having come in three weeks ago on a Sunday to see it empty.Vinnie Blacklock, floor manager
The shop will stock more than 10,000 types of products across 46,553 sq ft, including a garden centre, with departments including food, alcohol toys, electrical goods, home ware, pet products, health and beauty and seasonal ranges.
It also has an extensive DIY, decorating and furniture range.
Jayne Kemp, general manager, joined the company two years ago has taken on the role after working at the company’s Pallion store, where she won its Manager of the Year award, and its Southwick outlet.
She said: “It’s been a really good team building exercise.
“When we came in it was an empty shell and we’ve built all the wracking and pulled everything out so we will be ready for customers.
“In my previous two employments, I was made redundant, so I come from that field, and I know how important it was to recruit from the previous workers.
“A family member had worked at the B&Q store, so they knew a lot of people and we interviewed all of them.
“Our project manager has had the plans of where everything was going and had to be built in the store. “It’s been really good for team building and it’s been great for me to see them all after their induction and coming together and it’s really helped them gel together.
“We’re extremely excited about tomorrow.
“Every morning and night we’ve had a briefing and a countdown and now there’s just one day left.
“We’ve already had a lot of customers responding, they’ve already been having a drive into the car park, looking at the opening times and at the signage.
“People have seen it in the Echo as well and there’s excitement from the old B&Q staff that it’s going to open.”
Vinnie Blacklock is the store’s floor manager, who will be overseeing the shop with the help of assistant manager Laurie Tansey.
He said: “We’re so proud of the team, it’s absolutely amazing to look at it now, having come in three weeks ago on a Sunday to see it empty.”
Tomorrow’s launch will see funds raised for Cash for Kids, and members of the North Star ABA boxing club carry out a bag pack.
The first 10 customers will be gifted wine and flowers and there will be £250 of vouchers to give away.
There will also be a facepainter in store to transform customers into their favourite super heroes, animals or characters.
The store will be open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.