Marks & Spencer has opened the doors to its newest Foodhall in Carrickfergus, creating 50 new jobs.
Store Manager, Grace Lough, and her team of colleagues were joined by Cllr Maureen Morrow, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, alongside winners of the Carrickfergus Model Primary School colouring competition to cut the ribbon and officially open the brand-new store.
Located in the Shore Commercial Park on Belfast Road in the heart of Carrickfergus, the brand new 7,000 square foot food store offers thousands of food products such as Summer BBQ lines from the Grill, including M&S’s Best Ever Burger, as well as the latest from the Plant Kitchen range.
M&S Carrickfergus has already recruited 50 colleagues to join its new team, which includes offering new roles to existing M&S colleagues as well as creating jobs for the local community.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Maureen Morrow said: “I am delighted to attend the official opening of the new M&S store in Carrickfergus. This new store will make a significant contribution to our Borough and will attract more people to the area.
“It will bring a much needed boost to the local economy, and more importantly, it has created 25 new jobs for the local community.”
Grace Lough, M&S Carrickfergus Store Manager, has worked at M&S for 13 years in various roles from Commercial Manager in Lisburn to Store Manager in the Upper Road store. She said: “Having grown up in Carrickfergus, I’ve always dreamed of bringing M&S to the local community. I feel incredibly proud to finally welcome our customers and talented team of colleagues to the hotly-anticipated store.”
The store will offer new seasonal innovations you’d expect from the retailer who brought the avocado to the UK – inspiring customers to try something new with friends and family.
On the morning of the launch, Simon Layton, M&S head of region for Northern Ireland, said: “It’s really special for us today to open another store in Northern Ireland. This new foodhall in Carrickfergus is the 21st store on the region.
“We’ve wanted to be in Carrickfergus for a very long time, and we’ve just been looking for the right site. This one is brilliant, as it’s right on the main road and really convenient for our customers. It will also help to balance the busy shopping times of the year with the other store in Newtownabbey.”
M&S Carrickfergus will also present the full range of M&S Clothing & Home products via its Collect in Store service. Customers can order online at M&S.com and the store will offer hassle free returns and with 90 free car parking spaces, the store is ideal for convenient Clothing & Home collections. The store will also offer next delivery for orders placed before 12 noon.
As well as offering quality products, the newest M&S team will be providing local customers with excellent service. The 50 colleagues working at M&S Carrickfergus have all been extensively trained in how to make every moment special for customers, drawing on M&S’s over 50 years of serving the Northern Ireland public.
Simon added: “The community feedback has been phenomenal. In the build-up there’s been so much so much social media activity and interest about the store opening.”
The first 200 customers who entered the new store were in for a treat as 200 ‘golden tickets’ were handed out including M&S Food gift cards worth £200 and £100. Q Radio hosted an outside broadcast to entertain customers and local supplier Genesis Bakery was also on hand to sample some of their delicious cakes.
Cheryl Baxter who lives in the local area, was one of the first customers to visit the new store. She said: “It is absolutely lovely to have a Marks & Spencer open in Carrickfergus. I won a golden ticket to the value of £100 and can’t wait to get in and shop.”
Grace continues: “We’re delighted to offer outstanding service for our customers. Along with our bespoke Food offer, busy customers will be able to easily collect and return online clothing orders with pick up available seven days a week.”
In regards to future expansion plans, Simon said the company will continue to look at more ways to grow in Northern Ireland. He said: “We haven’t got any confirmed sites yet to announce, but we’re always looking for new opportunities across Northern Ireland because it’s a really strong part of our food business, as well as our home, clothing range and click and collect services to.”