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This multi-million pound investment to improve the retail offer of Folkestone, which opened in November 2007, will help to address the leakage of £250 million annual retail which is currently being spent away from the area. Stores previously not represented in Folkestone include ASDA and their clothing store, George, along with Next, Bhs and HMV.
Bride Hall Developments Ltd, one of the UK’s leading private property developers with extensive retail development experience, worked in partnership with Shepway District Council to bring the development to fruition and provide a quality shopping environment with good pedestrian links between the shopping centre, Sandgate Road and Guildhall Street.
Since its opening Bouverie Place shopping centre in Folkestone has created almost a 1000 jobs, the majority of which have been taken by local people.
In addition to bringing state-of-the-art shopping facilities to the District, the creation of new employment opportunities has been central to the council's plans to regenerate Folkestone.
"We are very pleased about the number of new jobs that have been created and that so many of these have been taken by local people. From the beginning the council has been committed to delivering a new shopping centre in the heart of Folkestone, to provide easy access to local employment opportunities and to reduce the need for people to travel. Bouverie Place is a vital piece of the jigsaw in Folkestone's regeneration and we look forward to other exciting developments that are in the pipeline" said Cllr Robert Bliss, Leader of the council.
Jobcentre Plus has been working with Shepway Council, the training provider Next Step and Bouverie Place management since the early stages of the centre's construction, helping retailers to find suitable employees and job seeker's to secure employment.
Tony Marsh, District Marketing Manager for Kent Jobcentre Plus said:
"Bouverie Place has created a real buzz and lots of opportunities for anyone wishing to pursue a career in retail, which is one of the UK's largest and most dynamic industries. We have been overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to work at the shopping centre, many of whom value the opportunity to work flexible hours in a modern, friendly environment.
"Jobcentre Plus handle many of the vacancies that come up at Bouverie Place and have worked with employers to offer additional help to Jobcentre Plus customers who claim benefits and would like to work in retail. In fact, we have been so successful in working together to make the most of the opportunities on offer at Bouverie Place, that Folkestone has attracted national attention for its efforts to help local people into local jobs.
"We would encourage anyone interested in working at Bouverie Place, regardless of whether or not they have worked in retail previously, to get in touch with us to find out what opportunities are available. Either call us on 01303 713800 or drop in to our refurbished offices at Trinity Road, Folkestone (just around the corner from Wyevale Garden Centre)."
Karly Foulstone from Folkestone attended an ASDA Open Day at Jobcentre Plus and despite having mobility problems and restricted use of her right arm, is now working an average of 22.5 hours as a George Colleague within ASDA Stores.
Support for Karly was arranged via the Jobcentre and has included 4 days Pre Employment training with ASDA and help with interview skills, confidence building and body language at interviews.
Karly and ASDA will continue to receive support for the first 6 months in her new job. However, it was agreed that a Work Trial would not be undertaken as both Karly and her employer were confident that she was right for a job within ASDA.