TESCO is taking over the former Woolworths building in Leigh Broadway.

After months of speculation, the supermarket giant has announced it will run the site as a Tesco Express, creating about 25 full and part-time jobs.

The shop has been vacant since January, when Woolworths closed after decades on the site.

Confirming the deal, Tesco spokeswoman Carol Leslie said: “We are really looking forward to bringing another store to the area to serve local people.

“The Woolworths premises will no longer be a closed store, which is good for the town.”

But Leigh town councillor Peter Dolby said the news was a double-edged sword which had both drawbacks and benefits.

He said: “My initial reaction is we have enough food retailers in the Broadway.

“But it’s nice it won’t be a big empty space anymore.

“I’m pleased it’s not going to be empty, but I would have much rather it had been something else, like a Next.”

John Lamb, Southend borough councillor responsible for enterprise, also extended a cautious welcome to the news.

Mr Lamb, who is the councillor for the west Leigh ward, said: “I’m pleased in a way, because, while I would like to see the site taken over by a department store rather than a supermarket, at least it’s an empty store being filled.”

Mr Lamb said although the news could have a negative impact on local stores, he thought shoppers would remain loyal and support independent retailers.

The takeover will see the premises subjected to a complete refit, and it will be open seven days a week. No opening date has been confirmed.