HUNDREDS of shoppers braved the cold to get their hands on sweet potato katsu curry and cauliflower popcorn bites as a new Marks and Spencer opened its doors.

An estimated 300 people queued outside the new Foodhall in Chipping Norton, which welcomed its first customers at 10am yesterday.

The first 200 shoppers at the store received 'golden tickets' containing various offers, one of which included a £200 gift card.

Read again: Video shows huge queue for new M&S

A long line of customers waited patiently alongside a giant Percy Pig at the new store on Windmill Square Retail Park, with the car park full well before 10am.

First in the door was Marie Thorley, who lives opposite the retail park and waited outside the Foodhall with her daughter Rachel Heath from 8.30am.

Until now, Mrs Thorley has had to travel to Banbury to shop at M&S, and she was understandably delighted with the new store.

She said: "We've seen it from start to finish and we're very pleased with it.

"I'm an M&S shopper, so I have to go to Banbury, and this will be so much more convenient for us."

The Oxford Times:

Construction of the retail park began last April, with a Mountain Warehouse, Pets Corner and Costa Coffee also located on site.

The new M&S created 44 jobs and staff were immediately put to work as residents flocked to the supermarket.

Dozens of people missed out on the golden tickets, with Chipping Norton resident Janet Crowse the unlucky 201st customer.

Despite her disappointment, Ms Crowse was thrilled to visit the 'desperately needed' new store.

The winner of the £200 gift card has not been confirmed and the only major concern was the busy car park.

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Cars struggled to find parking spaces and Mrs Thorley admitted she feared more congestion at peak times.

She said: "That's the one hiccup we're concerned about, mostly weekends when more shoppers come from the other villages."

But store manager, Lewis Tea, is confident the parking problems would not persist.

He said: "We've got a small car park but this is typical for day one.

"It's been a busy day but it'll die down and the parking issue will be absolutely fine."

The Oxford Times:

He added: "We're really happy with how the opening went and really pleased with the turnout."

M&S already has a large Foodhall branch at Oxford Retail Park in Cowley, plus food halls inside its larger department stores including Oxford's Queen Street and in Witney, plus several smaller Simply Food branches across the county.

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