SISTERS are finally seeing the fruits of their labour pay off after seeing their fire-hit business reopen.
Alison Hodgson and Deborah Newton had fulfilled a dream to open a store together, but were devastated when a blaze tore through the grocers during the early hours of December 5 last year.
Now the pair are celebrating after work to replace the building were completed.
The damage was caused after the fire started in a neighbouring pizza shop, with an elderly man rescued from his neighbouring flat.
At its height, 22 firefighters from stations across Wearside were called in to tackle the fire.
Alison, 51, who also works as a phlebotomist at Sunderland Royal Hospital, lives close to the shop and saw the fire as it raged.
She said: “My husband heard thudding and thought it was someone breaking into the shop. We’d only been open short of a year and built the business up.
“We had in all our Christmas stock and orders and then this happened and we were stood watching it all burn down.
“Now it’s been almost another year refitting and building it.
“Lots of people have been asking us when it’s going to reopen.”
Alison, 51, who is married to Eric, 57, and Deborah, 56, who is married to Paul, already owned the building and formerly ran an energy brokerage, but decided to transform it into a fruit and vegetable store to supply a demand for fresh produce in the area.
Alison added her thanks to Kennek Construction and EH Plastering for their work to complete the rebuild, which was funded through an insurance claim.