More than 200 people braved the cold to be in with a chance of winning a voucher as the first customers at the new Marks & Spencer Foodhall in Chipping Norton this morning (Thursday, January 30).
Some had queued for an hour and a half to make sure they were among the first 200 to walk through the shiny new doors at the supermarket on the newly-built retail park.
Store manager Lewis Tea was delighted with the turnout and was proud of the staff, with 44 new jobs created, who have helped them to open in a matter of days.
“The team has been working so hard to get ready for the opening and it’s been brilliant to see the community turn out to support us today," he said.
"The shelves are bursting with everything from lunches to go, to everyday essentials, to dinners perfect for sharing with family and friends.
"We’re excited to be part of the Chipping Norton community and we can’t wait to get to know our local customers.”
The queue snaked around the building to the car park entrance, which was also full to the brim, with cars stuck as they tried in vain to find a space.
Mr Tea said it is usual for a first day rush but believes there are enough spaces in the car park for it to cope with demand.
Marie Thorley, one of the first customers to enter the new Foodhall having waited since 8.30am, said: “I’m extremely happy about this store opening because I shop at M&S all the time but the closest store used to be in Banbury, so having one so close by is very convenient.
"The whole Chipping Norton community has been incredibly excited about the opening and we know it will be a huge success.”
For Amara Qudus, today was doubly exciting as her role as a customer assistant in the food department is her first job.
“The last couple of weeks have been busy getting the store ready for our customers, it’s been great getting to know my colleagues and being part of the opening this morning," she said.
"The whole team has come together to make every moment special for Chipping Norton customers and we look forward to welcoming the local community to the store.”
As well as an M&S, the new retail park on London Road is also home to a Mountain Warehouse, Costa Coffee and other stores.