The first store in the new Chequers Court development in Huntingdon opened its doors today (Wednesday).

Customers arrived at the new Marks and Spencer in Huntingdon.Customers arrived at the new Marks and Spencer in Huntingdon.

The ribbon on the new Marks and Spencer food store was cut by manager Jo Malins as the new team of staff welcomed their first customers.

The store, which features a 24-seat café and an in-store bakery, has created 55 jobs.

Ms Malins, who has worked for M&S for over eight years, said: “The team and I are really proud and excited to see M&S return to Huntingdon. This new store brings a fantastic selection of M&S food and drink to the area, from traditional favourites, to Friday night meals and show-stopping dinner party ideas.

“We have been delighted with the response from customers today, and are looking forward to working with the local community in the months and years to come.” Huntingdon resident Marion Bowes was one of the first customers through the doors on the opening morning.

She said: “The store is much bigger than I expected - I didn’t realise how large it would be. The shelves are so well-stocked and the staff were all very helpful; someone even carried my heavy basket. I have been looking forward to the opening for some time and I shall certainly be returning to do my shopping.”

Store opening hours are from 8am-8pm, Monday to Saturday, and 10am-4pm on Sunday.

The 14,000 sqft unit is the first to open in the new shopping centre, and the retailer will shortly be joined by Next, TK Maxx and Café Nero with further new names to be released, according to the owner of the development, Churchmanor.

Stephen Clark, director at Manormaker, said: “Chequers Shopping Centre is the main shopping destination in the local area and the extension once completed will see nine additional retailers open.

“The opening of Marks and Spencer Food Hall is a great success and demonstrates confidence in both Huntingdon and the centre. We look forward to completing Chequers Shopping Centre and to providing the town and local residents with a wider variety of tenant mixes and choice.”