PRIMARK is poised to take the place of Marks and Spencer at High Wycombe's Chilterns Shopping Centre.

A deal is set to be signed soon for the budget clothes store to take the place of M&S, which is to re-open at Eden next month.

The news was hailed as major boost for the town and sign that the centre can survive alongside Eden.

Once final details are in place the store will be open by the autumn, a spokesman for Primark said.

The centre will see a major boost in shoppers when Primark opens its doors, a spokesman for the budget clothing firm has said.

Visitor numbers could rocket by a fifth once the hugely popular store opens, Primark's Geoff Lancaster said.

Its owners have overseen a major expansion in recent years and bucked the Christmas sales slump with a 26 per cent sales increase from September to December.

Police had to be called to the opening of a store in Oxford Street, central London such was the demand from shoppers.

Mr Lancaster said: "We're intending to take over, subject to legal final details.

"I think what you'll find is the centre will suddenly get busy again.

"Managers of other shopping centres have told us that footfall has gone up by 15 to 20 per cent following us opening."

He added: "We think the demographic is very good for us in High Wycombe.

"We think the location fits our pattern quite well in that we do go for out of town but we prefer the town centre. That seems to suit us well."

He added: "We invest very heavily in our stores, not just cosmetic refits but the entire fabric of the building.

"We go for expensive refits because although we're a low price clothing store we still want our shopping experience to exceed expectations."

The nearest stores to High Wycombe at present are in Hemel Hempstead, Maidenhead, Reading and Slough.

Cllr Tony Green, chairman of Wycombe District Council's High Wycombe Town Committee, said: "It is a great relief that someone is to take over and it is not going to be left empty because that was always the worry.

"Primark is probably a good fit with what we have got in the town and would go with other retailers in the Chilterns Centre."

Cllr Green said the news shows there is "certainly room in the town for the Chilterns Centre and Eden and the other high street stores and independent retailers".

He said: "The town will manage without any difficulty. People shopping in the Eden Centre will come out and look at the rest of what is on offer in the town.

"The Chilterns Centre is a very important part of that."