�3m project to create 500 jobs

A WESTON businessman is defying the recession to launch a new �3million business which will create more than 500 jobs.

A WESTON businessman is defying the recession to launch a new �3million business which will create more than 500 jobs.

Richard Nightingale, whose removal firm Nightingales has been running in Weston since 1960, is setting up a new estate agents and lettings firm.

The company's head office will be based in Weston's Station Road, with negotiations already underway to establish a network of 15 branches across the South West.

Talks are taking place to secure premises in Bristol, Bath, Clevedon, Portishead, Burnham, Swindon and beyond.

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Mr Nightingale told the Mercury he believes the recent closure of a number of estate agents has left a gap in the market - and he believes the firm will be well-placed to thrive when the economy recovers.

He said: "We feel we can bring our expertise in the house-moving market into this new area.

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"We believe it's the right time to become established. Yes, it's quiet now, but we are able to invest and hope to be ready when the market picks up."

Mr Nightingale told the Mercury that the closure of other estate agents means many 'experienced, professional people' will be working within his new business.

And he added that basing the new business in Weston had been a crucial part of the planning process.

He said: "The heart of the business, its head office and the initial outlet will be in Weston at Station Road.

"It will be the first estate and letting agency to have its head office situated within the town itself, which will go a long way in recognising the town's increasingly important role in today's business world.

"Weston has always been close to our hearts and indeed, when a decision had to be made regarding the area where the head office was to be centred, Weston was our obvious choice.

"We would like to thank everyone in Weston who has supported Nightingales over the years.

"We do anticipate that the head office will employ over 50 staff and the chain itself over 500 within the first two years.

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