A NEW multi-million pound retail park in Johnstone is welcoming customers for the first time, with American coffee giant Starbucks opening its doors.

More than 75 jobs are expected to be created at the Paton’s Mill retail park, which will also be home to discount stores Aldi and Home Bargains.

Starbucks opened the doors of its drive-thru on Monday, breathing new life into a sprawling site which had lain derelict for years.

It is expected that both Aldi and Home Bargains will open their outlets in the coming weeks.

Paton’s Mill was once among Renfrewshire’s largest employers, with many local people working at the huge textiles plant on the banks of the Black Cart River.

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Built in 1782 by the Corse and Burns Company, production at the famous bootlace factory ended in 2004 when Paton’s moved its operation to a nearby business park.

The site then became a frequent target for vandals, ultimately resulting in a devastating fire in 2013 which led to it being delisted by Historic Scotland.

Only the porter’s lodge, close to the front entrance gates, and the generator house, within a wooded area, remain at the site, with every other building demolished last year.

That paved the way for the new development, although some traders have expressed concerns that the retail park could have a negative impact on town centre businesses.

The new Starbucks is being operated as a franchise by OCO Westend Ltd, who also opened the chain’s drive-thru business in Linwood in 2015.

Coffee lovers will be able to get their fix at the Paton’s Mill site from 6am until 10pm on Mondays to Saturdays and from 7pm until 10pm on Sundays.

Gordon McDonald, operations manager for OCO Westend Ltd, said: “We have created 28 jobs, having recruited a full team of partners from the local area. 

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“As local franchisee, we are proud to support the Johnstone community, investing significantly in a beautiful new store as part of the ongoing regeneration of the Paton’s Mill site, along with the much-anticipated opening of Home Bargains and Aldi.

“We’re looking forward to being part of the local community, providing a welcoming space to enjoy a great cup of coffee.”