Christmas comes early for jobseekers at Eagles Meadow shopping centre

A shopping centre has created nearly 100 new jobs in the run-up to Christmas – fuelled by the upturn in the economy.

Retailers at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham are reporting an increase in trade and have taken on dozens of temporary staff to deal with the festive rush.

It’s expected a number of the seasonal workers could be kept on permanently in the New Year.

The news follows a report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) that companies across the UK saw sales and optimism jump in the third quarter of this year.

Questioning 7,400 companies, BCC said service firms saw UK sales and orders rise at the fastest pace since 2007, while rises for manufacturing were the sharpest since the early 1990s.

Eagles Meadow Manager Kevin Critchley said: “It’s great to see the centre busy, not just at weekends but also on weekdays and for our late evening openings.

“Eagles Meadow already employs around 1000 staff and the news that we will be seeing another 100 new faces behind the tills at our stores over the next few weeks, through Christmas and into the New Year sales, is excellent – I certainly hope that some of them will become permanent members of our team here at Eagles Meadow.”

Debenhams Operations Manager Karen Roberts revealed the store has employed nine new members of staff on temporary Christmas contracts.

She said: “There may well be an opportunity in the New Year to make some of these positions permanent we will be looking at staffing levels in January.

“We will be looking closely at those people filling the temporary Christmas positions to see how they fit into the store and whether they are particularly suited to the retail environment.

“Trade and footfall has undoubtedly picked up in recent weeks as the economic climate has improved. And that means it is even more important we were able to recruit new people albeit on temporary contracts.

“We are looking forward to a very busy Christmas trading period and I’m sure those people we have offered temporary contracts to will be kept busy!”

Boots have also employed a further seven temporary Christmas workers and will also look toward making some of those positions permanent contracts in the New Year.

Manager Jo Stringfellow, who started her career with Boots on a temporary Christmas contract a decade ago, has recruited seven new employees until the end of the festive season.

She said: “We will look closely at staffing levels in January and hopefully, some of these temporary contracts can become permanent. The staff we have taken on range in age from 16 up to people in the 50’s and beyond.

“We are expecting a particularly busy Christmas trading period and it will be a chance for the new employees to see what Boots can offer in what is a fast moving retail environment.

“Equally, it’s a chance for us to see what skills these new employees can bring to the business.”

Jasmine Tulk, 19, of Rhosddu, Wrexham landed one of the temporary Christmas contracts at the Eagles Meadow Boots store.

She said: “I have worked for Boots at the Chester store but moved, on a temporary contract, to the Eagles Meadow outlet.

“I wanted to move to the Eagles Meadow store as it’s my home town and the transport costs, just for getting to and from work, are so much cheaper for me here.

“Boots is a fantastic company to work for and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to move to Eagles Meadow, even if it is on a temporary contract.”

And it isn’t just shops that have taken on new staff ahead of the busy festive period.

Eagles Meadow restaurant Frankie & Benny’s took on two new members of staff with the festive season in mind.

Manager, Peter Cross, says he needed more staff trained and up-to-speed for what he expects to be a very busy Christmas period.

He said: “I took on two new members of staff working one or two shifts a week with more in December. However, it’s no good me taking on new staff now, I had to think about it in September.

“It gets exceptionally busy and I need trained staff who can handle the pressure. Fortunately, I was able to offer Welsh speaking students Morgan Jones and Megan Williams a few shifts a week and then full-time work once they finish college for Christmas.”

He added: “We get a lot of Welsh speaking customers from Dolgellau, Bala and Porth Madog for example, and I believe it’s important they can speak Welsh with Welsh speaking staff when they are in a restaurant in Wales.

“Of course staff aren’t just for Christmas, we will always be loyal when it comes to our workers and if we can help people who want more shifts at busy times we will always try and help.”

He said: “It’s certainly has all the hallmarks of an exceptionally busy Christmas period. I have noticed an upsurge in the volume of people out shopping in Eagles Meadow.

“And that means we are getting some very busy lunchtimes while events like the Doctor Who special and the release of several top films means we are busy during the evenings too. It certainly looks like this will be one of our busiest Christmases yet.”

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