BRITAIN's leading discount retailer is set to reopen 15 stores that were temporarily closed - and one of them is opening to customers in a Hampshire town.

Poundland is bringing another batch of stores out of hibernation, including Fareham's Market Quay store, after 34 of its shops were reopened on Monday for the first time in weeks.

The discount store has kept most of its stores open for essential shopping during the coronavirus lockdown.

But in March, it decided to close one-in-nine stores, largely where it had another store close by or was in a shopping centre that had difficulty remaining open.

The store's Operation Sleeping Beauty was launched this week to "reawaken" stores that were temporarily closed across Britain.

Subject to agreeing final details with a handful of shopping centre landlords, Poundland intends to reopen the final batch of hibernating stores as early as next week.

Robust health and safety measures will operate as they do in all Poundland stores that have remained open.

Measures customers can expect to see include:

• Marshals at the door to limit the number of customers in store at any one time

• Floor markers to help customers maintain social distancing

• Perspex screens at manned checkouts to protect colleagues and customers

• The closure of every other self-checkout to make appropriate social distancing easier

• Rigorous hygiene routines that include colleagues washing their hands every 20 minutes and key surfaces being wiped down every hour.

Poundland retail director Austin Cooke said: “We’ve been encouraged by the response from customers hearing about our stores coming out of hibernation this week. Our colleagues are glad to be back at work in their stores and we know customers are reassured by the protection measures we’ve put in place so their local Poundland can open again.

“We’re moving to reopen all hibernating Poundland stores steadily and carefully, making health and safety for customers and colleagues our top priority, just as we have in all the stores that continued to remain open throughout the last few weeks.”

Alongside awakening its hibernating stores, its distribution centres in Harlow, Wigan and Bilston will also begin to normalise operations, adding 20 per cent more capacity in the coming weeks as logistics colleagues also return from furlough.

In normal times, Poundland attracts seven million shoppers a week to its stores across the UK.