WATCH: Hundreds of shoppers turn up for opening day of new Portsmouth M&S Foodhall

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HUNDREDS of shoppers descended on a city retail park as a high street giant unveiled its latest store.

After months of preparation M&S Foodhall swung open the doors to its new branch at Ocean Retail Park in Portsmouth this morning.

Store manager Sophie Thomas and 'The News Local Hero' Ben Brown, 34, from Cowplain along with the 60 strong team at the new store ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (180321-1299)

Store manager Sophie Thomas and 'The News Local Hero' Ben Brown, 34, from Cowplain along with the 60 strong team at the new store ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (180321-1299)

Scores of eager spenders journeyed to the Burrfields Road site, where sweeping queues lined the facades of the supermarket’s neighbouring units.

Among them was Debbie Burns, from Baffins, who dubbed the launch ‘exciting’ – a day after Marks and Spencer closed its store in Commercial Road.

She said: ‘There is always a sadness about a store closing, especially in the heart of the city, so the fact there is a new one in its place is a good thing.

‘The atmosphere has been very upbeat, so it’s exciting to be here.’

As they poured into the store, browsers were offered a glass of bubbly by faces from Hambledon Vineyard – before some began an opening day search for one of eight hidden golden eggs, which equated to money off at Foodhall tills.

Joining the ribbon-cut outside the shop was marketing executive Ben Brown, who just a day earlier was hailed a community hero in a competition run by The News and M&S.

The contest called on people to nominate someone who deserves recognition for their selfless actions –and was topped by the father-of-two, who on his days off volunteers at city charity Football For Cancer.

As he was handed £200 in M&S vouchers for his victory, the father-of-two said: ‘I feel extremely proud to be here.

‘It’s an absolute privilege to see the hard work that has gone into the store and I feel honoured to be here to open it.’

As the sun shone on shoppers filing into the Foodhall, its manager, Sophie Thomas, said: ‘It’s absolutely overwhelming to see how many people are here – the team is thrilled.

‘I’ve been working on this since November and we’ve only been in the store since Friday, so it feels surreal to be welcoming customers now.’