A SWINDON-based retailer has sounded a positive note as it gears up to take on new recruits despite the jobs gloom hanging over the town.

Oak Furniture Land, which is based in South Marston, is expanding nationally and is taking on new staff.

The company opened a new store next to John Lewis in Mannington Retail Park on Boxing Day and is expanding its 500,000 sq ft warehouse and distribution facility, which is part of its head office in South Marston.

As it opens other branches across the country, new roles are being created in its customer service and IT teams in Swindon.

The news provides some welcome relief for a town that has been hit by news of 800 job losses at Honda and another 370 at its logistics firm SDC, along with a string of shops and retailers going into administration.

Paul Brock, head of marketing at Oak Furniture Land, said: “We have 36 stores nationally and we plan to put another 12 in this year which will mean we triple in size.

“As that expansion programme continues into the year it will create vacancies in all of these areas.

“As stores open it will create more need for after-sales and customer service functions, which are all dealt with in Swindon.

“We have been based in Swindon for quite some time and are looking for talented individuals from the area as we invest in our future.”

The hardwood furniture retailer is recruiting for an IT position and customer service advisers to be based in Swindon, along with other roles across the region.

The chain employs 650 people nationally, with roughly half based in Swindon.

Mr Brock said: “We have based our national distribution centre and head office here and we are extremely positive about Swindon as a location.

“It has good transport links as it is close to the M4 and M5, which provides good access to the distribution network, and it has access to a very good pool of labour.

“We feel it is a good place to be.”

The Adver told yesterday how a task force has been set up in the town to cope with the job losses from Honda and its supply chain.

The task force will offer a package of support to Honda associates as well as workers in the supply chain who are affected.

The effort is being led by Forward Swindon and Jobcentre Plus, and will co-ordinate a response from public sector agencies and other organisations, with skills accreditation such as re-training, CV writing and supporting people with people making benefits claims among the services offered.