Furniture millionaire plans to open first Scottish store

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SELF-MADE millionaire Chris Dawson, dubbed the richest man in South-west England, has unveiled plans to open his first store in Scotland and create about 150 jobs.

Dawson – a “jobs ambassador” for the Channel 4 Jobs Report multimedia project – wants to turn the former Amadeus nightclub and Riva bingo hall at Queens Links Leisure Park in Aberdeen into a branch of The Range, his chain of DIY and furniture stores. The firm already has 55 shops south of the Border and employs about 2,500 staff.

X-Leisure, which owns the leisure park, has lodged a planning application with Aberdeen City Council for a change of use and to link the two redundant units to create a 60,000 sq-ft shop. The firm admitted Queens Links had a “chequered past”, with the nightclub having been empty for the past ten years and the bingo hall vacant for four years.

Dawson, who opened his first The Range superstore in his hometown Plymouth in 1989, said: “Aberdeen is an economic hot spot which outperforms many other cities in the UK. It is the ideal location for us to launch The Range brand in Scotland and there is much more to come, that I can guarantee you.”

The businessman, whose fortune has been estimated at £300 million, added: “The site is a great starting point for us to grow our business in Scotland and, in addition to creating a large number of jobs, we are confident The Range will have a positive impact on Aberdeen’s excellent retail sector.”

In 2009, Dawson bought the entire stock of failed furniture retailer MFI in what he branded as “the biggest furniture purchase in history”.

Mark Lomax, senior portfolio manager for X-Leisure, said: “We are delighted to have attracted a major retailer to Aberdeen and are confident their offering would be a great fit with the existing leisure and food outlets.”