THE date has been set for high street giant Marks and Spencer to open in Waterlooville.
Residents and businesses say they are delighted that the high quality food retailer will be opening in Wellington Retail Park and they hope the company will bring with a big boost to the local economy.
The retail park is opposite the entrance to the West of Waterlooville major development site which will eventually see 3,000 new homes.
It is the first time Marks and Spencer has had a presence in the Havant borough and the Simply Food store will cover the 8,400 sq ft former JJB store, which has been closed for more than a year.
More than 60 jobs have been created with the opening. And although the store will only sell food, catalogue orders of clothes and other items can be delivered to the store.
Jackie Buckley, of Treeside Way, Waterlooville, said: ‘It’s great news. It’s means a big name will be in the town centre. Anything that can give a boost to our town centre has got to be good.
‘I’ve only bought food from M&S on occasion but that’s only because we don’t live near to any stores. I’m certain that will change though, especially because you can use their Shop Your Way service because I really like their clothes.
‘This is a great thing for Waterlooville. Hopefully it will bring more people into the town centre. I’m really looking forward to having it on our doorstep.’
There will also be a 50-seat café in the store which will serve hot and cold dishes, desserts, sandwiches and a large selection of drinks and Fairtrade tea and coffee.
A new in-store bakery will offer a range of speciality breads, pastries and cakes freshly baked on site each day. There will be cards, wrapping paper and a selection of hosiery products.
Rosemary Wilson, chairman of Waterlooville Business Association, said: ‘A new business like this could revitalise the town.
‘People from Waterlooville travel to Petersfield to use their M&S store.
‘But I believe that it will bring many people from as far as Cosham and north to the Clanfield area to Waterlooville.
‘I don’t think it will affect Asda or Waitrose as they have their own clientele.’
Store manager Jamie Ayers said he was delighted to be opening the store on May 28 and was looking forward to welcoming new customers.