SKIPTON's former House of Fraser building has been bought by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group.

The group owns a number of store chain and fashion brands including Peacocks, which is taking a prime location within the site, the company has confirmed.

Other retail brands the group owns include Ponden Home, Austin Reed, Viyella, Jaeger, Jacques Vert and Berwin & Berwin.

Confirming the acquisition of the House of Fraser building, the fast-growing international retail group said it was planning to redevelop the site into a number of separate retail units to 'bring together a diversity of different shopping options in Skipton'.

The company said it was currently working on a development plan and could not give any details yet of when the site would be open for business or which outlets would feature inside the store.

Once the development plan is complete, the company will be able to announce whether the units will be occupied by other brands from within the EWM stable, or by separate retailers or both.

When asked about recruitment for the retail jobs, the company said it had only bought the building, not the former business, so recruitment would start from scratch when the time came.

It is not known yet how many jobs the retail outlet will provide, but they are expected to be both full and part time and will help fill the void left when House of Fraser closed late last year.

EWM Group added that the company is 'a strong believer in the value of the local high street, and operates more than 1,100 stores and concessions internationally - particularly on local high streets outside of London' and that the retail space was not going to be a single department store.

It is also understood that the town's current Edinburgh Woollen Mill outlet, in Sheep Street, is to remain in that location, rather than move into the new store, unless plans change.

EWM Group recently moved its head office from Langholm in the Scottish borders to Carlisle in Cumbria.

It is wholly owned by Dubai-based British billionaire Philip Day, who opened the first Days department store in 2017 in Carmarthen in Wales.

The Group says it currently employs 27,000 colleagues across its brands and business arms, and that this number is continuing to increase year on year, both organically and through the acquisition of new businesses.

Many of these colleagues have been employed by the company for decades and many have multiple generations working in the business.

The news is a shot in the arm for the town which has great plans for the future, aided with a £1.2 million Historic England grant to revitalise the town centre, create a performance venue in the town hall, an 'Art House' in Otley Street, among other things, as part of the Skipton Heritage Action Zone initiative.

The vision is to encourage more people into the town centre, particularly families and young people in a bid to secure the future of the business element of Skipton while preserving its historic charm.