TWO new shops have opened for business in Bolton town centre, giving the borough’s shopping scene a welcome boost.
A luxury chocolatier has launched its newest store in the Market Place — the first brand of its kinds to open in the shopping centre.
Hotel Chocolat has welcomed dozens of shoppers through its doors since opening at a prime location on the first floor this week.
The unit, formerly occupied by Carphone Warehouse, has been decked out with Christmas merchandise and yummy holiday gifts to mark the festive season.
On the first floor at Market Place, Chic 2 Chic is the second shop to have opened in the last week, bringing a collection of Turkish jewellery and clothing to the mall.
This smaller unit is a business expansion for Prestwich mum Nese Sener-Brown, who has previously run stalls and kiosks at The Lowry, in Salford, and Mill Gate Shopping Centre in Bury.
Shamila Nazli, Hotel Chocolat store manager, said: “The shop opening process has been amazing. We have had a lot of people coming in.
“We have had customers saying they usually go to the Trafford Centre shop and they are excited to have one right on their doorstep.”
She added: “Hotel Chocolat is the best company you could work for. They value their staff and have really good ethics.”
The company has its own 140-acre plantation in Saint Lucia and works with local growers to produce its cocoa.
Shamila, who lives in Rochdale, joined Hotel Chocolat as an assistant manager in November last year, and became involved in the new shop launch after being promoted to store manager.
There are currently four full-time and three part-time members of staff at the shop, and the company is on the look-out for another sales advisor.
Assistant manager Lisa Udale, from Westhoughton, joined the team four weeks ago.
She said: “I really hope it is going to be a success.
“Everyone seems really excited that we have a Hotel Chocolat in Bolton.”
She added: “I think they have done the Market Place out really well. It shows we are trying to bring Bolton up and make it a destination to go to.”
Contractors finished work in the unit on Monday and made way for staff to kit out the shop floor over the next two days prior to opening.
Bolton Bangers is another new arrival at the shopping centre. The cafe and bar opened in The Vaults in mid-October, offering a range of premium sausages and milkshakes.
Shoppers voiced that they were glad to see these new shops opening in the town centre, with many adding “It is exactly what Bolton needs”.
However, the future of some major stores remains uncertain.
Only last month, Debenhams announced that 50 stores were earmarked for closure.
Bolton store manager Shelley Oliver previously told The Bolton News that no announcement had been made yet about which stores are due to close.
Back in March this year, 60 New Look stores were earmarked for closure, including Bolton’s New Look Men store.
Then on Tuesday, the fashion retailer announced it was set to close 85 stores in the UK, with discussions regarding the closure of a further 13 stores still ongoing.
First-time visitor to Hotel Chocolat Harry Moulton, from Great Lever, said: “I think it is brilliant that a new shop has opened. It is just what the Market Place needs.
“I like to support the town and I hope it brings in lots of customers.”
The first 50 visitors on Thursday received a goody bag containing a selector packet of chocolates and some discount vouchers to use on their next visit.
They were also invited to taste and try some ‘super milk puddles’, containing 65 per cent cocoa, new peppermint truffles, and some of Hotel Chocolat’s ice cream — comprising Jersey cream, St Lucian Theobroma cocoa nibs, topped with mince pie sauce.
At 2pm, Council leader Cllr Linda Thomas cut the ribbon to officially open the store alongside a social media competition winner Claire O’Brien. The shop is due to hold a dedicated customer shopping day on Friday when visitors will be treated to free chocolate and café samples, and 15 percent off products.