Twenty new jobs are being created in Co Down with the opening of a branch of a popular family-run garden centre in a £1m investment.
The ever-popular Hillmount centre, which has a branch in the Castlereagh Hills, has opened its second premises in Bangor's Belfast Road, complete with an 80-seater restaurant, the Gardener's Rest.
Run by the Mercer family since 1940, the renowned Hillmount brand brings plants, gardening equipment, homewares and a gift department to the town.
Hillmount managing director Alan Mercer revealed how the new centre has provided jobs for employees who lost their jobs when high-end department store Hanna and Browne closed its branch at the Bloomfield Shopping Centre last month.
The new branch brings the number of Hillmount staff across the two centres to nearly 100.
Mr Mercer said the company had not intended to expand for another two years but when the company architect spotted the site in Bangor, "we just knew it was the right location for us".
"We did a social media campaign to involve the local community so we could stock the store with the products that they demanded rather than just making the decision ourselves," he explained.
"Our builders, suppliers, decorators and staff have really pulled out all the stops to ensure that the building would be ready to open its doors today.
"Opening in Bangor is a real natural progression for the business which was started by my great-grandfather in 1940," said Mr Mercer.
The 31,000 sq ft retail space has parking for 49 cars and boasts in excess of 5,000 plants to choose from, a Christmas shop, Hillmount branded jams and chutneys, a dedicated garden supplies area, Weber barbecue section and a wide range of garden furniture and accessories.
The new shop will be open from 9am til 6pm Monday to Saturday and from 1pm until 5pm on Sundays.
The new premises were opened by North Down mayor, councillor Andrew Muir.
Cllr Muir commended the company for the new jobs created in the town.