Malmesbury’s new Waitrose store was bustling when it opened this morning after six months of construction.
Elizabeth and Kenneth Grey, of Worthies Lane, Malmesbury, were first in line waiting for the doors to open and were presented with a bouquet and a bottle of champagne.
Mrs Grey, 60, said: “We’ve waited a long time for this, Malmesbury deserves it.
“I think it will do Malmesbury an awful lot of good. It looks very smart; it’s done beautifully.”
Mr Grey, 63, said: “We’ve been looking forward to this. We won’t have to travel to Cirencester to shop anymore.”
Mayor of Malmesbury Sue Poole, who cut the ribbon, said: “I normally shop at the Co-op because it’s convenient, but obviously I’ll now come up and try Waitrose.
“Many residents in Malmesbury are already familiar with the brand so to have one on their doorstep will be wonderful. We are sure it will attract more shoppers into the High Street as well as to the store.”
The shop offers two hours free car parking for those who spend at least £10 in store.
Also invited to the branch unveiling were Major Mick Moreton, second in command of 9 Regiment at the Royal Logistic Corps, and Miriam Nicholls, Wiltshire volunteer of the year, who volunteers for ten different organisations including Doorway and does reading in schools.
Graeme Cosgrove, Group Developments, said the opening was the result of three years of collaboration.
Waitrose paid £4.5 million to buy the land to the back of Avon Mills and the store received planning permission in May last year, when Sainsbury’s plans for a store twice as large in Malmesbury were rejected.
The 18,250 sq ft store has a cafe serving cakes, two coffee machines, cheese, meat and fish counters, a deli counter serving baguettes and platters to eat on the premises, a bakery, large wine department with wine-tasting, John Lewis Click and Collect and Johnsons dry-cleaning.
There is also a quick check facility, where customers get a hand-held device to take around the store and scan goods themselves, in order to avoid queuing at the normal check-outs.
One of its 187 new employees, who have all become partners in the John Lewis Partnership, is Sam Dyne, 32, of Parklands, Malmesbury, who was delighted to start work.
She said: “I was working in a pub in town before and was pretty excited to see this job come up, it’s better than being a waitress. There are lots of benefits to working here.”
All employees are entitled to a share in profits, in the form of an annual bonus.
There is also a tower built in the forecourt to attract swifts, a first for Waitrose.
The first three charities to benefit from their green token scheme, which gives out £1,000 a month, are Dorothy House Hospice, Develop Enhancing Community Support and the Armed Forces charity SSAFA.
The store is open 8am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.