Keen shoppers turned out for the opening of Trowbridge company HJ Knee’s new store at the Spitfire Retail Park today.

After 130 years the family firm left its Fore Street base, the new shop being opened by town crier Trevor Heeks.

A little rain didn’t deter shoppers who came out looking for a bargain and first customers Bradford on Avon couple John and Josephine Barrett were given a bottle of Champagne after buying a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Mrs Barrett said: “We certainly hadn’t intended to be the first customers so it was quite a shock.

"I think the shop is very nice and very well laid out and I wish them all the best for the future.”

The new HJ Knee store, in the former Comet shop, will specialise in electrical goods, furniture and homeware.

The company believes it has the right move leaving the town centre.

Jonathan Knee, property and business director, said: “I woke up this morning with a big grin because I was so excited about the opening.

"There’s been a lot of hard work put in and everyone is happy with the business’s next chapter.”

Ian Vidler, retail director, said: “I’m really pleased with the custom we’ve received today so far. I think the place looks fantastic and I’m sure this will be a big success for us.”

The retailer downsized as it prepared for the move, closing its electrical store and partially closing its department store, which will remain open while selling discontinued and clearance stock.

Peppers Hair and Beauty Salon will continue in the department store until the building closes.

Customer Diana King said: “I was devastated when I heard Knees was leaving the town centre but I’m really impressed with this new store and I think they’d do fine as Knees is such a major part of Trowbridge.”

The company plans to hold activities to officially mark its move over Easter.

Marcus Holbrow, managing director, said: “I’m very relieved that this day has arrived and I hope that we will be well received by the people of Trowbridge.”

Knees is working with property consultant Sanderson Weatherall to find tenants for the stores it is vacating.

As part of its move HJ Knee cut its staff of 50, making 15 redundancies.