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Dover woman Tracy Whiteaker opens new M&S Foodhall at St James' development

By Sam Lennon

A snip of a ribbon and Dover's new Marks and Spencer store was open.

The M&S Foodhall, opened at 10am today, was the latest business to welcome customers at the new St James' leisure and retail development.

The ceremony was carried out by Tracy Whiteaker, chosen by the company after organising a mass charity walk on the seafront in March.

Tracy Whiteaker opens the new store.
Tracy Whiteaker opens the new store.

The new store opened the day after the predecessor branch in Biggin Street shut down.

Staff have either moved to the new M&S outlet or have been relocated to neighbouring ones.

The St James' store will sell more than 6,000 products also features a 48-seat cafe.

Manager Chris Tallamy with his team.
Manager Chris Tallamy with his team.

Its manager is Chris Tallamy, backed by a staff of 50.

He said: "We're thrilled to be opening our doors at Dover St James'.

"We're already part of the local community here in Dover and are looking forward to our new exciting chapter with the town."

The old store also sold clothes and was 12,000 sq ft. The new branch is 9,700 sq ft but now has an extra 3,000 sq ft for the sale of food.

Customers can still buy clothes at the new branch through a Click & Collect service.

This provides the option of having M&S.com Clothing and Home orders delivered to the store for free, next day.

First customers rush in.
First customers rush in.

Mrs Whiteaker, of Whitfield, was made the winner of M&S's Community Hero competition after Dover's first ever sponsored Full Moon Walk on March 31.

It raised more than £52,000 for Breast Cancer Care.

She said: "I met so many members of the community through the walk and it's great to see so many people here today to celebrate with Chris and his team.

"M&S is a brilliant champion for local causes and it's an honour to receive this recognition for our local fundraising efforts."

Mr Tallamy said: "We want to put the community at the heart of our store and Tracy's story is really motivating for our fundraising."

The store's chosen charity this year is Parkinson's UK.

The Foodhall is the latest new business in the much-anticipated £53 million St James' project.

The first, Cineworld, opened on March 9 and other businesses have started one after the other trading there since.

For example Travelodge opened on March 28, Superdrug on May 11 and Next will welcome its first customers in July.

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