A FLAGSHIP Southampton store is pulling out of the city with the loss of scores of jobs.

Matalan has confirmed that its store in the Marlands shopping centre would be closing within weeks.

The Daily Echo has been told that the company had decided not to renew its lease for the two-floor unit at the shopping centre around 18 months ago.

Since then centre bosses have been working to find new tenants to take over the premises. Now that has happened the clothing and homeware chain has been served formal notice to quit the site, meaning the store will cease trading at the end of May.

The Marlands general manager Tim Keeping said the decision for Matalan to leave was a mutual one.

He revealed to the Daily Echo that the new tenants lined up to take over the premises included Peacocks and Poundworld.

He said the centre was also in advanced talks with a third retail brand.

Mr Keeping said: “The Matalan store here in the Marlands is very different to their retail operations elsewhere and whilst they have traded successfully from the store here for several years they have reached the business decision to withdraw from the centre.

"This has given us the opportunity to reconfigure the space they currently occupy and introduce some new retailers to the scheme.

"Following on from the other recent additions of fashion retailers Roman, Yours and Blue Inc. both Peacocks and Poundworld are great retailers and will offer yet more reasons for shoppers to visit the Marlands. We will hopefully be in a position to make a further announcement about another exciting addition to the line-up shortly.”

Mr Keeping said that the aim was for Peacocks and Poundworld to be open for business in November.

Matalan declined to comment on the closure but did confirm that they had been given notice to leave the site although added they did not want to leave the city.

A spokesman said it was too early to confirm whether any alternative sites in Southampton were being sought and that they were not able to comment on the number of job losses due to “legal reasons”.

Matalan has been a popular store in Southampton since it opened twelve years ago.

As reported at the time the chain took over the unit previously occupied by Dunnes Stores which pulled out in 2002.

Matalan was officially opened later that year by the then mayor Brian Parnell.

The opening was seen as a boost for the centre and the city with the creation of more than 100 jobs.