After weeks of renovations, luxury clothing chain Flannels tonight unveils its first Sunderland store.
The retailer, which specialises in high end clothing, footwear and accessories for men and women, has taken over the former Primark site in Fawcett Street.
After lying empty since Primark moved to The Bridges in 2012, the new 16,000 square foot store now stocks premium brands such as Jimmy Choo, True Religion, Kenzo, Hugo Boss, Giuseppe Zanotti and Moschino.
Ahead of a VIP night this evening, the Echo was given a first look around the transformed site which will open to the public from 9.30am tomorrow.
The first floor is dedicated to casual menswear brands such as Armani Jeans, Versus Versace, Belstaff, Barbour and Dsquared2, while upstairs stocks men's formal wear including Helmut Lang, as well as womenswear and accessories including Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Balenciaga and Michael Kors.
Marketing manager Jenna Triscott said: "Our head office is in Manchester and our stores are predominantly in the North West but we wanted to branch into the North East. We've also opened a new store in Plymouth recently which was really well received, we're really trying to put ourselves on the map. We believe there's a gap in the market here and we want to be the ones to fill it.
"This site appealed because it's such a large unit and we have plenty of stock to fill it with."
Speaking about interest in the store's opening, she said: "We've had so much interest, from the first moment we put up the signs saying we were coming. We took them off the glass yesterday and people were pressed up against the window."
The first Flannels store opened in Knutsford, Cheshire in 1976 and since then the company has successfully introduced designer fashion largely to the North West and Midlands regions.
This week’s opening is a landmark moment for the company which already has a chain of successful stores in Manchester, Liverpool, Plymouth, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff and Nottingham.
The Flannels chain was acquired by Mike Ashley, owner of NUFC, in 2012 under his Sports Direct empire. The chain is affiliated with Van Mildert and Cruise and a number of workers who lost jobs when Van Mildert closed in Sunderland have been taken on at Flannels.
The new Flannels store is running an opening offer of a £30 voucher for every £150 spend.