Published: 00:01, 28 June 2017
Scores of eager foodies descended on a new supermarket after it opened its doors this morning.
The Marks & Spencer Foodhall store at the Warren Retail Park off Simone Weil Avenue in Ashford officially opened at 10am today.
Customers were fighting for car parking spaces this morning from 9.30am onwards in a bid to purchase the freshest produce, and the cafe inside the store was also proving to be popular.
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The company first revealed plans to open the 10,000 sq ft store in August last year in a bid to compete against other supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
It is the third M&S store to open in Ashford, with a clothes store open at the Designer Outlet and a mix of clothes and food in the High Street.
New store manager Mathew Lawrence has been working in the town centre store ahead of the launch, and has spent 16 years with the company.
He said: "I've been at a few store openings and this is the most people I've ever seen walk in.
"The car park is full already which I never would have expected because there's 130 spaces.
“There are a lot of potential customers in this area, and Ashford is a growing town. We want to pick up those shoppers who don’t go into town or in the area at all, as well as some of those who go to other retailers.
“I have spoken to customers here who can’t wait for it to open. I’ve been inundated with people ready to shop with us, coming up to the doors as soon as the sign went up, and even when the builders were still in here.”
Mr Lawrence said the store will be engaging in community projects in the borough such as the Ashford Vineyards project, and said several of his staff members have already have helped there.
The new store has created 75 jobs, with some being recruited through advertisements with the Job Centre to help cut unemployment in Ashford.
The store boasts a bakery and cafe, as well as a click and collect service, which Mr Lawrence already expects to be busy in anticipation for Christmas turkey orders.
The store also has nearly 6,000 product lines, including ready meals, fresh fruit and vegetables, traditional and international cuisines and more.
The opening hours are from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm on Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.
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