High Street icon Marks and Spencer has opened a brand-new 9,000 sq ft foodhall in Ashby - creating 55 jobs. The chain welcomed its first customers as people queued outside for the ribbon-cutting so they could be the first to get a glimpse of the store's interior.
It was opened by store manager Chris North, who was joined by the staff and twins Harry and Luke Culwick, from Packington, who were also celebrating their 10th birthday.
Harry, who has cerebral palsy, is supported by The Phoenix Children's Foundation, the store's chosen charity.
Mr North said: "The opening has gone really well and was well organised. We are happy as it is what we expected and more. The whole team has been really excited and itching to open those doors.
"We have had five days of actually being in the store but 12 weeks of planning so we started in August and have been building it from the ground up. The feedback we have had so far has been really positive and people have been saying that they are really glad that we have come here.
"I would like to say thank-you to everyone, what an amazing reaction. We hope that they keep shopping with us and keep giving us feedback. There has been a lot of anticipation for the opening but when it actually happened it was surreal."
The new 9,000 sq ft store has brought with it 55 jobs to the area and offers thousands of food and drink products, as well as a 24-seat M&S Café for shoppers to enjoy tea and cake, or grab a coffee.
The Phoenix Children's Foundation was established in 2006 with the sole purpose of enriching and enhancing the lives of young people living with illness, disability or lack of opportunity.
The charity owns animals, including miniature Shetland ponies, which are used for petting for the children when visiting hospices and special needs centres. They also have reindeer and donkeys who help fund-raise.
Harry has been supported by the charity for nine years after both twins were born at just 28 weeks; their mother Sam initially felt that they would not survive. It was also suggested to her to cut the blood supply off to Harry to give Luke a better chance but she stood strong and now both boys have just turned 10.
Luke was born weighing 2lb 13oz and Harry just 1lb 6oz. Harry had a difficult start, not growing for the first few weeks and battling nine infections, seven of which could have been fatal.
He cannot walk, sit, stand or talk and communicates with his family through facial expressions. He is described as a happy little boy and the support of the team at the Phoenix has meant that he now has a specially adapted bike while the family has become close friends with the team.
The opening hours of the new M&S store in Ashby are from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.