THE county’s newest shopping centre has opened its doors to the sound of cheers and confetti canons.
The new shops at the £50m Marriotts Walk development in Welch Way, Witney, opened to the public yesterday.
Crowds of people queued to enter Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Monsoon and Accessorize, along with Frankie & Benny’s and Café Rouge restaurants, a five-screen Cineworld cinema and a 590-space multi-storey car park.
There was a party atmosphere as ribbons were cut in the shops, jazz music was played and a town crier announced the openings.
Manager Chris Taylor cut the M&S banner, as customers drank Champagne and explored the new store.
He said: “We are so delighted to be here in Witney and to finally get the shop open. It’s overwhelming the number of people, it was so good to see the queue outside.”
Pensioner Betty Whitby, 67, from Leafield, was one of the first to look inside.
She said: “It’s really nice to have some nice shops in Witney and shops that are open later.
“From 5.45pm the town is normally dead.”
Friends Annelise Jones, 68, from Freeland, and Christine Hall, 60, from Church Hanborough, turned up for the opening.
Mrs Jones said: “We are very impressed with the fact that we have got M&S in Witney — it saves us having to get into Oxford or Cheltenham.”
Mrs Hall added: “Witney has needed this complex for years as it has grown.”
Oxford Mail photographer Denis Kennedy, who cut the ribbon to open Debenhams, has provided canvas prints of the town, displayed around the shop.
Store manager Sandra Coulthard said: “All the hard work over the last few weeks has come to fruition.”
New Look, previously located in Market Square, also opened its two-storey shop.
Manager James Kemp said: “It’s great to have a large store now compared to the smaller store and the fact that it is in quite a key location.”
Shopper Roz Painter, 29, from Witney, came along with her two-year-old son Finlay.
She said: “It’s going to be so good for Witney to have more in the town and a cinema for the youngsters.”
Jane and Steve Park-Pearson, from Carterton, were first to use the free car park.
Mrs Park-Pearson, 44, said: “It was lovely.
“It saves having to go all the way into Oxford for Debenhams and Wallis.”
Richard and Janice Hull, of Madley Park, Witney, shopped with son Daniel, 10, and daughter Gemma, eight. Mr Hull, 45, said: “We are excited to come and see the new shops.”
Today, Witney MP and Conservative Party leader David Cameron is due to unveil a commemorative plaque at the new development.