AN empty Weymouth town centre shop occupied by florist Fiona Penny has already been snapped up.

As reported, stalwart local florist Fiona handed back the keys to her St Thomas Street 'Sunflowers' shop last week after 30 years in the town centre, and is now running her business from a garden studio in Weymouth.

But the premises will not be empty for long: next door hairdressing salon Gazzini has today announced it will be expanding into the shop with plans to offer beauty services as well as hair.

Salon manager Alison Brown told us: "I know how hard Fiona has worked - going in to the shop at 5am for 30 odd years - so I hope she can have a bit of break.

"She is a client of ours so she will be able to see what we're doing with the place - hopefully she will like it - we miss her already.

"There was quite a lot of competition for the shop - I think another florist wanted it - we had to put up quite a fight. We found out about a month ago and we get the key this week - we're very excited about it."

There will be quite a lot of work for Alison and salon owner Sarah Gazzini to oversee - but they are hoping to have the new shop open by May.

"It's completely empty at the moment - it's like a shell," Alison said. "There's going to be a huge amount of work going into it but I think it'll be great for the town when it's finished.

"We're hoping to knock through to create at least a doorway, or possibly a wider space, between the two so we can walk through."

Gazzini has only been open since last January but already has a loyal client base - however the new shop will come as a surprise to most regular clients.

"We didn't want to announce anything on Fiona's behalf, we wanted to be respectful of her," Alison added. "Hopefully we can do a big launch event and opening evening, depending on social distancing.

I'm thinking positively and that moving forward things are going to be much better - we want to support the town centre - it's awful at the moment - there's empty shops everywhere."

When finished, both shops will have the same clean black and white theme, with a luxurious feel, Alison explained - and it is hoped that around five new jobs will be created.

Gazzini reopens on April 12 with an introductory 20 per cent offer for new clients. The salon is currently running a luxury Easter hamper competition via its Facebook page.