THE two companies planning to take over the former Woolworths store in Cirencester are expected to be open for business before Christmas.

Plans for Mountain Warehouse and Poundland to move into the site in Cricklade Street have been in the offing for the past few months.

And while the property currently remains empty, work is on going to create two separate businesses.

Wildmoor Properties, which owns the site, is splitting it into two premises with Mountain Warehouse operating from the larger side and budget store Poundland going into the smaller section.

Mountain Warehouse confirmed this week it is planning to be open before Christmas.

The outdoor equipment specialist has opened 50 new stores in the past two years, and the Cirencester site will be the sixth time the group has moved into a former Woolworths site.

A spokesman for the company said the official opening date was yet to be decided but the move was definitely going ahead. The company aims to have more than 200 stores and to double its workforce to around 1,500 by 2014.

Poundland spokeswoman Tracey Warmington said the company was still intent on moving to Cirencester but were waiting on a confirmed date for opening.

"The plan is to open before Christmas but we do not have an exact date yet," she said. "We will be announcing the date before the end of September."

Poundland has already started a recruitment drive, advertising for staff and making some appointments, the Standard understands.