A POPULAR Kidderminster charity has opened its new retail store in the town centre.

Kemp Hospice's Coventry Street shop opened its doors for the first time last Friday at the site of the former In Touch shop, whose owners Terry and Maurice Cohen carried out the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The store offers a dedicated children's section and a men's shop, as well as a boutique designed and created by students from the Academy at Kidderminster. It is hoped the facility will help Kemp with its fundraising, which needs to hit at least £940,000 every year.

Shayne Taylor, chairman of Kemp's retail trading company, said: "We believe that our new centrally located flagship store will move charity shop retailing to a new level in the town by offering extensive dedicated ranges for women's, men's and children's wear in spacious and comfortable surroundings.

"We are particularly excited about our partnership with the students from the Academy and believe their fresh new approach will attract a younger customer base to shop with us."

Lynne Jones, Kemp's retail manager, added: "We are absolutely thrilled by our new, spacious shop. Students from the Academy have merchandised a section which will appeal to young people and they are also bringing new ideas to our displays. We have dedicated men's and children's departments too so we can cater for the whole family."

During the days leading up to the opening, staff and volunteers at the Mason Road-based hospice spent their time running a "stock the shop" campaign. A spokesman said staff were "overwhelmed by the generosity and support from local people" in donating items for the new shop to sell.

Terry Osborn, the charity's chief executive, said: "We are all very excited about our new Coventry Street store which, as well as generating much-needed additional income to support our charitable services for the local community, will also be a shop-front for the hospice, where local people can gain information on all the services we provide to people with life-limiting illness, their families and carers."

Kemp Hospice chairman Ron Whitfield said: "Our shops are Kemp's link with the community, so we are all extrememly delighted to be opening new premises in the heart of Kidderminster town centre."

For more information, contact Ms Jones on 01562 228487 or email Lynnejones.kemptrading@yahoo.co.uk. The charity's fundraising team can be contacted on 01562 756066.