More than 1,000 people attended a recruitment fair with hundreds of jobs up for grabs at Rushden Lakes.
Jobcentre Plus was expecting to welcome about 600 people through the doors of Rushden’s Pemberton Centre on Friday.
But the jobs and skills fair proved so popular with more than double that number - 1,400 people - going along between 10am and 4pm to find out more about working at the new retail and leisure scheme.
People were queuing for almost an hour before the doors opened to speak to recruiting retailers including Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark, Accessorize, Kurt Geiger, Clarks, Schuh and Paperchase.
Also at the event was JD Sports.
Paul Hutchinson, regional training manager for the sports chain, said they were looking to recruit about 35 staff for the new store, including part-time and full-time sales staff as well as people with management experience.
He said: “The people that we have been seeing have got good experience, a good range of skills and lots of promise.”
Paul said Friday’s jobs fair was busier than a similar event for a new store at Meadowhall in Sheffield, and added: “This is a lot busier than previous ones I have done.
“This is two or three times busier.”
The Wildlife Trust, which is opening a visitor centre at Rushden Lakes, was at the recruitment event as well as Stagecoach, which will be running four bus services to and from the site just off the A45.
It was organised by Rushden Lakes and The Crown Estate, the owners of Rushden Lakes, in partnership with Jobcentre Plus.
Faheem Qureshi, head of employment generation at The Crown Estate, was really pleased with the number of people who went along.
Speaking on Friday, he said: “We want people to walk out of here with a job.
“There are between 500 and 600 jobs available.
“It’s very exciting, I do a lot of events like this in my job but this is one of the biggest I have done.”
And speaking afterwards, Faheem said: “We’re delighted with the response to the jobs and skills fair at Rushden.
“Working with our local partners at Jobcentre Plus, this event has generated a huge amount of interest, and the retailers and businesses have been very impressed with the wealth of talent on offer.”
During Friday’s event, people were able to apply for current vacancies, talk to employers from Rushden Lakes and the local area, and register their interest for working at the multi-million pound development.
Jobcentre Plus will be working with the retailers over the coming weeks to confirm exactly how many offers of employment have been made and how many new jobs were created at the fair.
Anyone unable to attend the jobs fair can still contact Jobcentre Plus for details about jobs at the development, which is due to open this summer.