Wilko has re-opened in its old unit in the Armada Centre after a £2.25m refit by new owner – Chris Dawson’s The Range chain.

The Plymouth businessman bought the Wilko brand for £5m and the Plymouth store is the first opening of its new-look concept stores, selling everything that you would expect from Wilko but a variety of other products as well, including an extensive pet and garden section, DIY and Christmas decorations.

Former store manager David Prout is back in charge and more than 30 of his former colleagues have got their old jobs back.

Steve Hughes, chief executive of the Plymouth City Centre, said: “This is such good news for the city centre. The closure of such a big name and the loss of so many jobs was a big blow.

“So, to have it re-open so quickly under the ownership of Chris Dawson is a huge show of confidence in the city centre and, especially that northern end of Armada Way. We are looking forward to working with Mr Dawson’s team at Wilko and other businesses in that area on the future development of Armada Way. Once work starts the public will begin to see that there is a clear vision for the city centre which will enable us to attract more visitors and customers.

“We have been saying for a long time that investors are waiting to see what’s coming. This could be a big step in the right direction for Armada Way and the city centre and good news for all our existing businesses.”

The Wilko re-opening on Friday (December 1) came on the same day as the opening of lifestyle store Oliver Bonas at Drake Circus and the recent openings there of Quiz, Rituals and Mooch with the opening of fashion store Mango also coming soon.

There have also been several new independent openings in the West End and Plymouth Market with an increasingly diverse food and drink offer with tastes from around the world.

The city centre has also seen the recent opening of Spinners, a new leisure and games offer at The Barcode and new cocktail bar Koda in Old Town Street.

With the improvements in New George Street now taking shape, the future of the city centre is looking more promising with footfall on the increase and more investment on the way.

Mr Hughes added: “ We have spent a lot of time and money getting the city centre ready for Christmas and joined forces with partners on an Autumn and Christmas marketing campaign. With the Christmas Market now open until December 17 and lots of interest in all these new stores, we hope all our businesses have a good run-up to Christmas.

Don’t forget to send us any news of your Christmas activities or offers along with images to Holly.Reynolds@citycentrebid.co.uk