THE owner of Motherwell Shopping Centre has hailed the arrival of a drive-through KFC as a key development in its aim to attract evening footfall to the destination.

Chester Properties said the £1.3 million investment by the fast food operator, which will employ 50 staff at the site, will bring a sea-change in shopping habits.

The development comes after data showed footfall at the centre was up 20 per cent in the six months from January to July, compared to the same period last year, in contrast to a flat performance across Scotland as a whole on average. The data is compiled for North Lanarkshire Council by PFM Footfall Intelligence.

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Chester director William Gear said: "Having a new KFC will give us a double boost. It will be a great facility in its own right, and we hope it will act as springboard to extend trading and other activities into the evening.

"We've welcomed eight new traders, including a fishmonger and our first ever e-Cig[arette] outlet, already this year and our occupancy levels are well over 90 per cent."

The new KFC restaurant, which will trade until 11pm, is not due to open until Easter.

Neil Armour Smith, the company's senior property acquisition manager, said: "We are delighted to be opening in Motherwell and believe KFC will be a positive addition to the local area.

"The Shopping Centre is really buzzing, mainly because shoppers see it as delivering great value.

"The new store will create 50 jobs with real career paths and accredited training at every stage, including apprenticeships. A majority of these will be part-time, which will bring real choice and flexibility to the local labour market."