good news: Terry Cassin, site manager for Britannia Construction, outside the Next store at Quedgeley. Inset: our front Page on February 2.
THE return of Next to Quedgeley is a step nearer after builders finished work at the fire-ravaged site four weeks early.
The 7,500 sq ft store, at the Quedgeley Business Park, was destroyed in a massive blaze last summer which took six hours to put out.
Next hopes to reopen this August, just a year after the building was practically destroyed.
Smoke from the blaze could be seen as far away as the Forest of Dean and it left the metal structure of the store buckled and in need of replacing.
Britannia Construction, from Cheltenham, was given the contract to repair the building.
A spokesman for the firm said: "When work began in October it was revealed that the damage to the frame was more significant than anticipated and around 90% had to be replaced.
"Specialist demolition contractors were brought in to remove the damaged material to allow the rebuilding to proceed.
"Despite the complicated nature of the work, Britannia handed over the completed shell ahead of schedule.
"The unit will then be fitted-out by Next prior to reopening for business later this year."
Britannia's contract also included repairing the fire-damaged Brantano shoe store.
But even though the fire damaged the roof and façade, the store was able to continue trading while repairs were completed.
Paul Halfpenny, managing director of Britannia, said: "Rebuilding the store in such a short timescale was only possible thanks to a magnificent team effort by our project team, suppliers and sub-contractors, all of whom worked on the original store. Well done to all."
Next declined to comment on the work at the development but confirmed it is hoping to reopen the store in August.
City councillor Martyn White (C, Quedgeley Severn Vale) welcomed the news the store was on target.
He said: "This is fantastic news for Quedgeley, it has been a sad loss for the area after the fire and it is great to see them getting back on their feet.
"With the opening of Gloucester Quays as well, it is just another sign that Gloucester is a city on the up."