THE new Beales department store has officially opened in Fareham.
The new store has filled the space in Fareham Shopping Centre that Marks and Spencer left vacant when it closed on April 21 this year.
Around 300 excited customers queued outside the doors of the department store from 7:30am until it opened at 9am.
Owner and chief executive of Beales, Tony Brown said it was one of the busiest openings he has witnessed out of over 100 that he has attended - and he said that the store had already taken three times the amount of cash that was anticipated.
He said: ‘The customer feedback has been probably the best feedback in my whole career.
‘It’s without a doubt going to be something good for people in Fareham.’
He also said that the store means a lot to him as he was born in Gosport and his family still live in the area.
He said: ‘I know my mum will be pleased to be able to use her Beales card on a regular basis.’
As well as Mr Brown, the store was officially opened by the Mayor of Fareham, Cllr Pamela Bryant, store director Matt Roberts, deputy store director David Moyse and centre manager Mike Taylor.
Nigel Beale, who is a member of the original Beale family that started the business made a guest appearance.
The Bournemouth-based department store chain operates 22 shops across the UK.