BOSSES at a Bury shopping centre have opened a new front in the battle to win over Christmas shoppers after a nightmare 18 months for retailers.

No fewer than nine new outlets have - or about to - trade in Mill Gate in the run-up to the festive season.

And after the arrival of The Range at The Rock, believed to be the first former Debenham's store site to be relet in the country, borough leaders are hopeful this is a positive sign.

Town hall chiefs are currently also pulling together detailed designs for the new 'flexi-hall' at Bury Market, after securing £20m from the government's levelling-up fund.

Plans for the authority to acquire a controlling interest in Mill Gate are also being progressed.

Council leader Cllr Eamonn O'Brien told the Bury Times: "It is great to see businesses bouncing back so strongly in Bury.

"We have high ambitions for the future of the town centre, especially with our recent acquisition of Mill Gate and masterplan work.

"With the recent successes around the £20m flexi hall bid we have won, the new hotel on the way and The Range taking over the former Debenhams site, we can have a great deal of confidence in our future."

Shoe retailer Wynsors is among the new arrivals, alongside Leading Labels, which has taken over the former Peacocks store premises.

Bolton eyecare specialists Mulberry & Broome are also on board, on Princess Parade, where they will have Freeze Factory as a new neighbour.

Prince Toys has set up a temporary unit and the Post Office branch on The Rock has relocated to the outlet next to the Cat's Protection shop.

And Donna Rowland has opened Donna's Barbers nearby. Merker Slots have taken over a former salon in Kay Gardens and American sweets and treats trader Funky Figures has been welcomed into the fold.

A Mill Gate spokesman said: "The new stores and businesses represent a positive boost for Mill Gate and a big plus for local shoppers with yet more shopping choices on offer."

Bosses also celebrated recently after centre manager Kirsty Williams won a 'manager of the year' prize for medium-sized centres at the Sceptre Awards. Judges praised ideas like their new TikTokTurf feature.