RETAIL giant Marks and Spencer have vowed to 'put local people first' as they prepare to create 50 new jobs in Largs.

The firm says it will place an emphasis on attracting local staff when it opens a new food store on Main Street next year.

There will be a mixture of full time and part time jobs in the new multi-million pound development, with a 'defined career path' available to new recruits which will allow them to progress from the shop floor into managerial roles.

A Marks and Spencer spokesperson said: "When planning permission is granted, M&S will begin to recruit as many of the new staff as possible from the local area.

"A local targeted advertising campaign prior to the store opening will ensure that all potential employees from in and around Largs know of the opportunities."

The firm will also be bringing a work placement programme which will help single parents, people with disabilities or health conditions and those who are homeless into employment.

M&S say that they will also support veterans, service leavers and ex-offenders into work through the same scheme.

Applicants accepted onto this programme will receive coaching and support to take part in a two or four week placement.

The details feature in a new planning application submitted to North Ayrshire Council which is set to be 'fast tracked' and ends a 15 year search by the chain for a suitable location in the town. The new superstore will be at 123-125 Main Street where Pearson's Garage and Stewart Associates currently stand.

The M&S development brief stated: "The closest foodhall store to Largs currently is at River Way Retail Park within Irvine town centre, so there is real scope for this development to flourish.

"Stores like the one proposed in Largs are likely to sell somewhere around 5,000 to 6,000 food lines, the majority of which will be M&S own brands.

"Largs as a shopping destination meets all of the current M&S requirements for the establishment of a foodhall store."

The fact that the development will be beside a main traffic route is seen as key by M&S bosses.

The spokesperson added: "Customers in Largs and the North Coast area in general currently require to travel to Port Glasgow or Irvine. As a result, a significant proportion of locally generated convenience expenditure is currently lost to these area. The Largs store will help to claw back this expenditure ‘leakage’ and can be expected to provide a welcomed boost to Largs town centre.

"It can be expected to increase footfall and add positively to overall vitality and viability."