AN ambitious couple has taken the helm of a popular deli in the centre of Darwen.

Jackie Aspinall and Steven Wood are following in the footsteps of previous owner Rebecca Lowe and original founder Carlo Ricioppo as they take over Deli Carlo, on Darwen Market.

The new pair has plenty of previous experience between them in running food outlets across the borough.

And when the opportunity came up, they realised it was too good to turn down.

Jackie said: "It seemed like the perfect opportunity, especially with the work just being completed on Darwen Market Square.

"It's also very local for me, so I can walk to work."

The couple insist they are not looking to tamper with Carlo's winning formula - which once attracted TV chef Gino D'Campo to Darwen.

So the Italian flavours will be retained - though there are plans to add some wider Mediterranean flourishes to the menu in the coming weeks and months.

Plans are also in place for a local tradesman, Chris Stanley Painting and Decorating, to give the shop a fresh look.

Jackie added: "We have been very grateful that Carlo, the original owner, has offered support and Rebecca, the previous owner stayed on to help with the hand over.

"We have kept the existing employees, who are great. All of this has made the transition very smooth.

"We've also had tremendous support from the market traders too, who have made us feel welcome."

Plans are lso in place for regular signed coffee mornings as Jackie is qualified in British Sign Language.