THURSDAY morning marked the opening of Oswestry’s brand-new Morrisons supermarket.

Customers queued outside the store from as early as 8am to catch a glimpse of the new features in the store at the Smithfield site.

An opening ceremony saw the ribbon cut by Selattyn and Gobowen parish councillor and Morrisons shareholder, Peter Clare, alongside Oswestry town mayor Councillor John Price, and store manager Richard Jones.

First through the doors on the morning was Oswestry resident Malcolm Hubbell, who was pleased with the new range of products on offer.

“I got here for about 8am – it looks good here,” he said.

“It’s a lot bigger than the other store we had in Oswestry; I used that one quite a bit.

Border Counties Advertizer: Malcolm Hubbell was the first customer through the doorMalcolm Hubbell was the first customer through the door

“A bigger store was certainly needed, and it’s handy for me as I live nearby.”

Members of staff spent time making sure everything was in place before the doors officially opened at 9am.

The new shop replaces the old Morrisons in Oswald Road, and brings to the town new features including a café, clothing sections and a community room.

Staff member, Margaret Phillips, spent more than 30 years working at the old site, and is pleased to be continuing her services at the new Morrisons.

She said: “I worked at the previous Morrisons for 10 years, and prior to that I worked there when it was Somerfield for 20 years.

“I’ve had a walk around and it is massively different from the previous store.

“The one noticeable difference is that it’s a lot bigger, but we also have the café which we didn’t have before, and all the fresh food sections are bigger and brighter – it’s very, very nice.

Border Counties Advertizer: Margaret Phillips cuts a celebratory cakeMargaret Phillips cuts a celebratory cake

“I think the move was necessary for the town; Oswestry deserves a good store like this.

“I know we have lots of supermarkets and some people say we have too many, but we haven’t got one like this with the variety of fresh choice here.

“On top of that, the link with local businesses is very good. We’re obviously trying to bring in more local products, and we have a very strong customer base of local people as well who like to see local products and brands they associate with the town.”

Richard, the store manager, echoed Margaret’s feeling about local produce, and insists it is extremely important for businesses like Morrisons to work alongside businesses in the area.

He said: “It’s massively important to work with local businesses, customers react well to it.

“Customers do want to have a product that was made locally, because they can understand the interaction between us and the producer.

“We took 95 members of staff from the existing store and took on another 75 members of staff.

“We’ll continue to recruit and be open to it.

“We roughly know how this store is going to trade, but it could go further than we expect and exceed our targets.

“We have done a few listening groups to find out what customers wanted from the store, and we’ve done the right things in response to that to ensure this is the right store for the community.

“I’m really proud.”

The Oswestry supermarket joins a list of just three ‘new concept’ Morrisons stores in the country, along with St Ives and Abergavenny.

Richard added: “There is a 106-seat café which the old store didn’t have. We have a full-concept Market Street which the old store didn’t have – this means the range of products we offer is larger.

“There is also a new community room, which the old store didn’t have. The community room is exactly what it says on the tin, it’s there for the community to use, there’s no charge for its use and it is booked through our community champions.

“We’re happy to host any events from weekly meetings to specific events – with the facility of using café too, it means people could have Christmas dinners and things like that if they want to.

Border Counties Advertizer: Customers get their first look inside the new Morrisons storeCustomers get their first look inside the new Morrisons store

“It’s really new to the business – I think there’s only 15 in the company at the minute. It’s a really good space to be used.”

Cllr Price took a tour of the new building to see what it has to offer.

He said: “It’s really nice, and everybody seems so happy that the day has finally arrived.

“I think it’ll function and do extremely well.

“There’s pros and cons of everything, but I hope it will do well in the same way I hope Oswestry will do well – and I’m sure it will.

“It’s developed Oswestry East which is doing well as an area, and I think it’s convenient and a nice gateway into Oswestry.”