THIS is not just a new food store, it’s an M&S Simply Food store.

And the new unit at Mannington Retail Park proved popular yesterday when it opened its doors for the first time at 10am, with cheers from staff and customers.

Dozens of customers flocked to see the store, which has more than 4,500 food and drink items as well as a cafe, flowers, cards and gift wrap.

Store manager Chris Hughes said: “We were expecting a few people but we have had quite a lot of press so we are incredibly pleased with the amount of customers here this morning.

“We are the only food offering in the retail park and we have got some fantastic drawing points. We have got a great selection of food, a bakery and a great cafe.

“The store looks fantastic and I am incredibly proud of the team and the effort they have put in. “We got the keys on Friday and have been stocking up the store ever since then.

“We have got a really strong team and a lot of new people joining the business. I am looking forward to working with them.” Chris, who lives in Chippenham, has worked for M&S for nearly 13 years.”

About 30 customers queued as they waited for Chris to cut the ribbon at 10am.

The first in the line was 81-year-old Margaret Painter, of Shrivenham Road, who arrived about half-an-hour early.

“I saw it advertised and I like Marks. I usually go to the Orbital but I thought as this one is opening today I would get my shopping and have a sandwich here,” she said.

“I was excited when I found out M&S was coming here. I come with Dial-a-Ride so they can bring me here. Mannington Retail Park is very good, we needed something like this out of town. People can easily come from West Swindon.”

Second in the queue was Carole Hogan, 53, of West Swindon, who walked to the store.

“It’s my day off and I would have been going into town anyway. Mannington Retail Park is right on my doorstep, I love it,” she said.

“I love John Lewis and Next here too. I will be popping into the new M&S store often.”

The new shop has created 70 jobs, one of which belongs to 45-year-old Jo Read, of the Lawns, who was made redundant from her previous job in March.

“It is really exciting to be part of the team. We have been really busy getting the store ready over the last few days,” said the customer assistant.

“I’m not actually due in until 2.30pm today but I asked to come in for the store opening.”

Jackie Garfoot, of Westlea, had been temping for two years before she got her job as a chain zone coordinator in the chilled foods section.

“It is great to work here and the staff are brilliant. We have been buzzing all morning,” she said.