QUEUES stretched around the new Morrisons store in Eldene today as customers jostled to be the first through the doors.
The company has been working on the £15m superstore since September, and residents were on site from 9am to see it open.
Lyn Marshall, who lives in Eldene and works at the Liden library in Barrington Close, said: “People have been waiting a long time for a superstore on this side. Otherwise there is only the Co-op or we have to go to Sainsbury’s in Stratton.
“I think it will be very popular.”
The store has provided jobs for more than 220 people from the local area, 114 of whom were previously unemployed.
Former Swindon Town player Fraser Digby opened the new 25,000sq ft supermarket with MP for South Swindon, Robert Buckland.
The new Morrisons store is also a Craft Skills Academy, meaning many of its staff are trained in traditional skills including butchery, fishmongery, bakery and flower arranging.
Shoppers can see skilled staff working hard, with bakers kneading dough and butchers making fresh sausages on the counter.
Staff will also advise customers, offer cooking tips, suggest food combinations and suitable wine accompaniments.
Paul Raine, the store’s general manager, who worked at the Morrisons in Haydon Wick for a number of years, said: “The opening was fantastic. I was a bit surprised how many people came.
“I think many of the customers will be pleased about the cafe, since customers were always asking for one when I was working in Haydon Wick.
“Some of the staff have come over from the store but many others were recruited from the local area.
“The team has worked hard to train as specialists in areas such as wine, butchery and bakery and the fresh market concept means that many products are created by these specialists in-store each morning.”
In December 2012 Swindon Council gave planning permission for the supermarket, which also has 250 car parking spaces for customers, to be built on the former site of Dorcan House.
Customers can choose from at least 140 different cuts of meat in the butchery, 80 cheeses from around the world in the deli and up to 48 varieties of fresh baked goods from the bakery.
“When people spend money they want to have a good experience doing it, and I think this new store does that. My only concern is how are the Co-op and Morrisons going to operate being right back to back.”