An area of Chorley town centre will be transformed under plans for a huge new retail unit.
Businessman Richard Ellis, who runs Chorley Fitness, is behind three new shops beneath his gym in the former Curtain Choice store and newsagents.
Chorley Home Store, Chorley Florist and Chorley Oak are set to bring new life to the top of Chapel Street, which Mr Ellis says has suffered a decline in the last few years. It will also create four jobs.
Mr Ellis, who has run Chorley Fitness for 13 years, plans to unveil Home Store in the coming weeks.
Chorley Florist has already opened its doors.
He said: “Our part of town has seen a big decline, like the rest of the town centre over the years.
“We need local people to support the local town, and you can only ask that if you’ve got some decent shops. This is a massive unit, and I’m really excited.”
The plans have been welcomed by fellow traders, who say the move is in keeping with their vision of how the town should move forward.
And it comes after the Guardian revealed last week how a new cafe would also be opening in Chorley Bus Station.
The Home Store will include concessions from five different suppliers including furnishing company Belfield and Bill Beaumont Textiles.
Mr Ellis said: “We have got some great things coming in.
“It will include soft furnishings and bedding and art work and canvas prints.
“We have teamed up with some really high quality suppliers who have lots of really good products.
“This will make a massive difference to Chorley and a massive difference to Chapel Street.”
He says the success of Chorley Fitness has allowed him to reinvest in the area and help make it a shopping destination.
He said: “The fitness centre has gone from a small ladies’ only gym to the only 24 hour fitness centre in Lancashire.
“It’s going from strength to strength and last year we invested about £150,000 to do up the listed building.
“We put in new windows, repainted and sorted the roof out.
“We had leased the units downstairs, with one being a paper shop and one a curtain shop and when they moved out we got a grant from Chorley Council towards getting the shops reopened.
“I have been a businessman in Chorley for 13 years and I have chosen to reinvest in the area.
“This is a really exciting venture for us and we’re pleased to be doing it in Chorley.”
Malcolm Allen, chairman of Chorley Traders’ Alliance, and who runs Malcolm’s Musicland on Chapel Street, said: “Both from the Traders’ Alliance and the traders on Chapel Street, we are really pleased to see new businesses opening.
“We are getting some quality independent shops here and it is heading in the right direction with the vision we have for Chorley in the future.
“This is very good news for the town.”
Donna Brown, 31, of Briar Avenue, Euxton, is running Chorley Florist as a joint venture with Mr Ellis.
She said: “I’m a qualified florist and have been struggling to find a job. It’s ok being qualified, but you need the experience too.
“That was hard to get, so after volunteering for six months I saw an advert from Richard for a florist and we decided to go into it together.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity and one which I really hope will bring more shoppers to this end of Chorley.”
Coun Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “One of the council’s priorities is to help local traders and attract new businesses to the town centre and we are delighted to see three new businesses opening at the top of Chapel Street.
“Chorley Homestore has benefitted from a shop floor improvement and a shop front improvement grant, creating four new jobs and Chorley Oak, which will be opening next door on Clifford Street, has used a shop floor improvement grant to assist with their new layout.
“We are also pleased to see Chorley Florist up and running so quickly after they moved into premises that had previously received a business improvement grant.
“It’s important we continue to support new and existing local business in Chorley to help them develop and flourish in these difficult economic times and these grants were created to do just that.”