Shoppers queued for more than an hour to get a first glimpse of the new M&S store in Skegness.
It’s six years since the branch in Lumley Road closed and since then loyal customers have had to travel to Boston or Lincoln.
More than 100 people waited outside this morning for manager Lauren Robinson and her 50-strong team to officially open the store with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Once inside they were welcomed with the aroma of freshly baked bread and cakes from the nearby cafe - and the smiling faces of the staff offering them a glass of bubbly and a bag for life.
Then it was off to explore the 5,000 lines on display and hunt out the opening day deals.
The opening of the store on the Quora Retail Park in Burgh Road has been long-awaited by customers and staff alike.
Manager Lauren said: “We are so excited to be open at last. Just seeing the smiling faces makes all the hard work worthwhile. It’s fabulous knowing it means so much to everyone.”
Queuing since 8.30am was David Bull, who lives just up the road. He said: “I had to be here for the opening. It was such a shame when the Lumley Road branch closed because there were a lot of loyal customers.
“The location is excellent for the people of Skegness.”
Also at the head of the queue was Janet Richardson, who said she was one of the first employees at the M&S store in Exeter 40 years ago.
She said: “I was born here and worked at the original Skegness store for a while. Its’s a godsend having it back. The food is always such good value.”
Many of the staff are local and trained at the branch in Lincoln, where manager Lauren started working for M&S doing 20 hours a week while studying criminology at Lincoln University.
Moving to the Skegness Foodhall after being manager of a M&S department store in Doncaster, she said: “I got the retail bug while at university and stayed with M&S. I’ll be hoping to see some of my 50 staff coming up the ranks with the company.
“Having done it myself, it’s something I’m passionate about - as well as encouraging apprentices.”
M&S’s new store launched with 5,000 lines, including its Christmas ranges and Autumn tastes from around the world.
Lauren - who comes from Lincoln and used to visit to Skegness on day trips when she was growing up - said: “This is my first Foodhall and being here for me is like being a child in a sweet shop.
“The staff did their Foodhall training in Boston and I soon realised talking to customers there how excited people are about the store opening in Skegness.
“Foodhalls are often on the outskirts of town so it’s fantastic to be at the heart of the community - and only a mile from the beach.”
Customers who had travelled to Boston to shop saw some familiar faces in the store. Yvonne Love had worked at the original Skegness store and moved to Boston when it closed. She said: “It’s so good to be back - and what a fabulous store. It’s a pleasure to work here.”
The new 7,500 sq ft store launched with its Christmas and Autumn tastes around the world ranges. Deals included a £10 gastro meal and half price Christmas tins of biscuits and chocolate boxes. After exploring the store, customers were able to relax in a 42-seat M&S Café.
Opening hours are from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.