THE manager of the new Marks and Spencer supermarket in Llandudno, Katie Whelan, expressed her delight as the hard work put in to set up the store culminated in a fun-filled opening day today (March 16).
Having been previously situated in the town on Mostyn Street for more than 80 years, M&S completed its relocation to Parc Llandudno retail park today, moving into a store which it says is the first of its kind in Wales.
With such features as a market-style “Foodhall”, a 4ft cheese barge, a “pick your own eggs” section, “Scan and Shop”, and a 119-seat upstairs digital café, there was plenty for customers, many of whom queued long before its 10am opening, to get excited about.
Katie is joined by all 114 staff who transferred from the previous store, plus 46 fresh new faces.
Returning to Llandudno having also formerly been manager of the old Mostyn Street supermarket, she hailed a “really exciting” opening day.
She said: “We’ve had a lot of interest and excitement from customers before opening; we expected to be busy for the opening and we’ve had big crowds turn up, which has been really exciting.
“I was store manager of the Llandudno store 10 years ago, and I’m really excited to come back, to be here for the opening of the amazing new store.
“There are so many new concepts; the digital café, where you don’t have to queue and just sit straight down and order, is amazing. There’s a lovely new menu and view out over the Welsh hills, so the café I’m particularly excited.
“We’ve got the cheese barge, kids’ trollies, Scan and Shop, and a bigger range than the old store, so there are lots of things that we’re really excited about.”
Katie also kindly gave the Pioneer a tour of the new Foodhall, which you can watch below:
North Wales’ longest-serving M&S employee, Karen Jones, who has been with the business for 51 years, cut the ribbon at 10am to declare the store “agor”, while other opening-day guests included Llandudno mayor, Cllr Harry Saville, and the town’s own “Miss Alice”.
Introduced by town crier Billy Baxter, and conducted by Percy Pig (wearing a Welsh bowtie), the Maelgwn Male Voice Choir kicked off the celebrations from 9.45am.
And to keep the entertainment going, the Ysgol San Sior choir, Ysgol Creuddyn harpist Ffion, and DJ Jonny B are also performed later in the day.
But for Katie, her personal highlights were: “Seeing the customers in, and seeing the team before we opened, and thanking them for the amazing work that they’ve done to get us to this point.
“It’s taken a lot of effort to get here and the team have all worked really hard, so seeing them before we opened was the highlight.
“There are a lot more colleagues than at the previous store, which is good, as well.”
With free parking facilities, longer opening hours than previously, a bigger “Clothing & Home” section, and its vibrant new Foodhall, the store aims to welcome all kinds of shoppers.
“Scan and Shop”, meanwhile, is a digital, more convenient way of shoppping in-store with a handheld scanner, using the M&S Sparks app.
Both colleagues and customers helped with the final design of the Welsh feature wall, which lights up the store from behind the tills with traditional Welsh pictures and phrases.
Many Welsh suppliers, who have helped build M&S Wales, also joined the team today for its celebrations.
Family-run business Popty, which supplies M&S with their traditional Welsh Bara Brith, gifted samples to customers today, alongside fellow suppliers Castle Dairies, Snowdonia Cheese and Llaeth y Llan.
Mariam Williams, who co-owns Popty with husband Gywn, said: “We are very proud to supply our family recipe of Bara Brith to M&S Wales and to be here today on the opening of the beautiful new store to share samples spread with the delicious Castle Dairies butter, with our M&S’ Welsh customers.
“We know we were originally welcomed as suppliers after Welsh colleagues and customers rallied and demanded M&S stock Bara Brith in Wales – so we forever have them to thank for our wonderful partnership.”
The store will be located at Parc Llandudno, Conway Rd, LL30 1PX, and will be open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 8pm, and from 11am to 5pm on Sunday (browse time from 10.30am).