A SHOPPING centre is on its way to filling up empty shops with some big high street names.

Poundland is in talks with management at the Victoria Shopping Centre in Southend High Street about opening a new store, while Metro Bank is also close to signing a lease.

Boutique e-cigarette “supermarket”

Vape and Juice is set to open today while the Fast Cash Company is opening next month.

The new arrivals would see 90 per cent of shops full in the centre.

Manager Dennis Baldry said: “It’s good to have stores in.

“There have been several lettings in the High Street as well, so it’s a demonstration in Southend that the economy is starting to turn.

“It’s good news for everyone.”

Vape and Juice, which cells e-cigarettes and the flavoured juices to create the vapour they use, is opening in a first floor unit next to Fury Flowers that has been empty since a jeweller moved out about two years ago.

The Fast Cash Company, a pawnbroking and loans service, is opening in the former Mini Ha Ha handbag shop the other side of Fury Flowers, which closed about a year ago.

Metro Bank, a new British retail bank, founded in 2010, has applied to Southend Council for planning permission to turn the large unit occupied by HMV into a bank.

The Echo understands HMV would move to another unit in the shopping centre rather than close.

Poundland is also understood to be in preliminary talks over opening a discount store, possibly in the large unit next to Boots, although no lease has been agreed.

Deputy council leader John Lamb, who has special responsibility for regeneration and enterprise, said: “It’s a good news story. It shows how business is coming in and regenerating back in Southend.

“Retail units, even if they are small ones, could be niche and it brings business and increase footfall.

“When people see empty shops, they don’t want to go there.

“It’s a real good news story to get units filled and we are starting to see that.”