INDEPENDENT women's fashion brand Apricot has opened its first store in the West Midlands - at intu Merry Hill.

The new Apricot store has joined 74 per cent of retailers at the centre who have already reopened following the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures.

Ten new jobs have been created with the opening of the store, based by Boots on the lower mall.

Launched in 2007 with the aim of offering high quality clothing at affordable prices, British brand Apricot now operates 15 stores and 400 concessions in the UK.

Sophia Ciampa, managing director of Apricot, said: “intu Merry Hill stands out as a fantastic retail destination and a popular location with shoppers in the region. We can’t think of a more perfect setting for our first store in the West Midlands, which will complement the centre’s already-strong fashion line-up."

She said she was confident the store can offer a safe environment for shoppers and added: " In line with the latest social distancing guidance, we’ll be limiting the number of people in the store, and we’ll provide hand sanitizer to both staff and customers.”

Rachael Jackson, general manager at intu Merry Hill, said the new Apricot store, which opened at the weekend, should give shoppers another reason to return to the mall now that strict COVID-19 restrictions have lifted and she added: “We are excited to be welcoming back more of our visitors each week – both familiar faces and some new ones.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure the centre is a safe place for people to visit.

"The social distancing measures in place throughout the centre mean the shopping experience is a little different to before, but our visitors will get the usual warm welcome they’ve come to expect. We’re following official guidelines and asking everyone to do their part too.”