RETAIL entrepreneur Chris Dawson has promised to create more than 2,000 jobs in Scotland under ambitious plans to expand his homewares chain over the next three years.
Dawson opened his first the Range superstore in his hometown of Plymouth in 1989 and the business now has more than 70 branches throughout the UK.
Speaking at the opening of the first Scottish branch, in Glasgow’s London Road, Dawson said that the firm – which employs more than 7,000 – is to almost double that figure by 2016.
He said: “With stores planned all across the UK, we are excited to be creating so many jobs. We plan to create more than 1,750 jobs in Scotland alone, with 5,000 in England and Wales, 6,750 in as little as three years.
“We have been working towards opening stores in Scotland for a long time but wanted to make sure the company was structured to support the expansion. We recently opened a huge 750,000sq ft warehouse in Doncaster that will support Scotland temporarily while we look at a specific warehouse in Scotland. The Scotland warehouse will bring a further 400 jobs.”
Following the opening of its Glasgow branch, which will employ 150 full- and part-time staff, the Range is preparing to move into Edinburgh, at the former Big W site at the Jewel, on 4 October, before expanding to Lochee in Dundee in November.
A spokeswoman for the company said it is yet to confirm the location of the warehouse and the other stores that are planned for north of the Border, but Dawson told The Scotsman earlier this year that his firm was poised to expand into Aberdeen.
The firm wants to convert the former Amadeus nightclub and Riva bingo hall at the city’s Queens Links Leisure Park, which is owned by X-Leisure.
Dawson, pictured below, whose fortune has been estimated at £300 million, said: “Aberdeen is an economic hot spot, which outperforms many other cities in the UK.”
The Range has already opened seven stores this year, with plans to add a further five before Christmas, and is targeting 20 more next year.
In 2009, Dawson bought the entire stock of failed furniture retailer MFI in what he branded as “the biggest furniture purchase in history”.
It also emerged yesterday that property tycoon Clive Coombes, who tried to buy the collapsed electricals retailer Comet after it fell into administration, is planning to launch an 80-store chain called Meridian Comet.
Coombes, who said the UK market for white goods and multimedia equipment is worth more than £3.8 billion a year, promised the first store would open during the autumn, with between eight and ten more following every three months over the next two years.
He added: “When we reach our target of 80 stores, the group will be prepared for flotation on the UK stock market.”