A TOP pub chain is set to move into Accrington with a £1M investment that would create nearly 40 town centre jobs.
The swanky Barracuda group is bidding to transform a huge four-address stretch of Blackburn Road into a plush bar which, according to the current owner, could herald a new era of investment.
Entrepreneur Kevin Cosgrove said: "It would be brilliant for the town and other pubs.
"Barracuda told me they have turned towns like Accrington around before. They intend to take a 35-year lease. They mean business and have already spent thousands in checking the building out.
"It is now in the hands of the council which will look at a planning application. But people would be silly to complain about it. It's a shot in the arm for Accrington."
The massive ground-floor development would see family-run furniture store Davies of Accrington and solicitors Farleys Direct converted into a Smith and Jones pub, one of Barracuda's four styles of "branded" bar.
A spokeswoman for Barracuda said: "It would be a quality pub with soft furnishings, very female-friendly and very inviting with good-quality wine and food menus.
"It would be a branded Smith and Jones pub but would have its own name and identity to reflect its setting in Accrington.
"If all goes to plan we are hoping to be on site in September and opening in January. Accrington is very much a target town for us, it has the demography we look for."
Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "The approach from Barracuda sends the clear message that Accrington is definitely open for business, and I welcome the interest in the town that this represents."
But furniture boss Gary Davies, 42, was unhappy at having to consolidate his main shop into a smaller unit he currently operates further along Blackburn Road.
He said: "Our business has been built up over the last seven years and my wife and I are upset at having to close our larger store down and compress everything into the smaller unit. Hopefully, we will still be able to provide the level of service Accrington needs."