IT might have been one of the coldest mornings of the year so far, but that didn’t stop dozens of shoppers waking up early to try out the city’s newest Lidl store.
The supermarket opened its doors at 8am this morning, after filling the site that previously housed the Co-op in London Road, North End.
Bill Shannon, from Fratton, started waiting at the entrance from 5am to be the first through the door.
The 66-year-old said: ‘I was expecting quite a few people here early.
‘I thought because it’s a new store I should come here on the first day to try it out.
‘It does help to generate the area a bit. North End does need a bit of a boost and it is good for the area.’
As the first shopper into the store Mr Shannon was handed a bunch of flowers and bottle of champagne.
About 40 new jobs have been created by the store.
Store manager Lee Whyte said he hoped the store would bring ‘a bit of life’ to North End.
He said: ‘We’ve got a fantastic team, great support from everywhere.
‘The team here is absolutely exceptional and they’re really excited to bring quality reasonably-priced food to the local community.’
Lidl’s area manager Edward Simpson said: ‘What is great is that we’re opening up a new little store right in the centre of North End, right in the middle of Portsmouth, serving the community and bringing everyday low prices to the high street.
‘We’ve given 40 local jobs to the local community, so it’s great to actually feel part of North End.
‘It’s a good buzz, it’s a good start.’
The site, at the junction with Derby Road, had been vacant for about two years since the Co-op closed its doors.
A total of 41 staff were made redundant when the shop closed.
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Ken Ellcome, cut the ribbon to officially open the store.
He said: ‘Lidl are expanding their operations in the city and it looks like a very good quality store.
‘It looks good from my customer experience. When a new shop opens there is always a keen interest.’
There are two other Lidl stores in Portsmouth, in Norway Road in Hilsea and Goldsmith Avenue in Southsea, and one opened in Portchester a year ago.
Two years ago Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt urged the city council to do more to improve parking and footfall on the back of shop closures.