Published: 14:12, 08 October 2019
| Updated: 15:01, 08 October 2019
International coffee chain Starbucks has opened at Ashford Designer Outlet.
The American coffee franchise - which already has a stores in Ashford International station and the town centre - started trading from the centre's only stand-alone unit at 9am this morning.
Customers can bag a free butter croissant or pain au chocolat with any coffee purchased in-store today.
A team of 30 employees, including baristas, managers and supervisors, have been preparing for the grand opening for a fortnight.
News of its arrival first came in the summer months, after a job advertisement was spotted by Kent Online on the HMSHost UK website.
The opening of the new coffee shop comes almost a week after the multi-million pound extension partially opened up to customers - along with big brands including Dr. Martens, UGG, Dune, Joules and Karl Lagerfeld.
Assistant manager Sam Buck, 26, who transferred from the Eurotunnel store to manage the new team said: "Today we are running an offer for customers - buy any coffee and get a pastry for free.
"The queues weren't massive when we opened at 9am today, but it has been really busy since.
"We have been here for just over two weeks training and have been preparing for the new opening for about a year.
"The interior and design is unlike any other Starbucks."
The coffee shop - which has indoor and outdoor seating for around 80 people - will open from 9am to 7pm.
Comptoir Libanais, which is situated in one of the largest retail spaces in the brand new food piazza, welcomed its first customers yesterday.
Thirty new members of staff have been busy preparing for the launch of the 250-seat restaurant, which will serve up a Lebanese cuisine with halal, vegan, and vegetarian options to diners.
Polo Ralph Lauren and Cath Kidston have moved from their existing stores into brand new retail units.
The popular designer brand - which previously had an adult and children's Polo Ralph Lauren clothing range at the centre - has moved into the first ever two-storey shop.
In less than a month, bosses will cut the ribbon on the £90 million development, as an official launch is planned for Thursday, November 7.
The 100,000 sq ft extension is set to add 50 units to the centre, creating around 500 jobs.
"The interior and design is unlike any other Starbucks" - Sam Buck
Hugo Boss, Sandro, Maje, Reiss, Armani, and Gant will open this month and Haribo, Bedeck, PUMA, Calendar Club, and Tempur will join the centre in November.
As well as the new shops, 725 new car parking spaces, and a £400,000 interactive children’s play area, which opened in May, have been added to the site.
The centre will also play host to Europe’s largest living wall - the £1.5m plant installation will become the centrepiece of the centre’s expansion.
More than 20 clothing and food and drink brands are yet to be announced.
A new light installation is also set to open at the shopping centre, recognising Kent's status as The Garden of England.
Called The Garden of Light, shoppers at the Ashford Designer Outlet will be able to walk through the projected installation free of charge after it opens on Thursday, November 7.
More by this authorGeorgia Woolf