EAGER shoppers queued from the crack of dawn to ensure they were the first people to set foot inside a new department store which opened in Gloucester this morning.
More than 300 people descended onto Eastern Avenue to mark the arrival of The Range, which occupies the former What! and Focus DIY premises.
Captain Range, the Haribo bear and retail management greeted the droves of new customers with welcome arms at 9am this morning.
Store manager Dave Jones said: “There is such a wow factor when we open a store, it creates a real buzz.
“We treat it like a department store so the standard of service is at a high calibre and it is more like a working mans’ John Lewis as we sell similar products but at lower prices.”
It has taken just over two weeks to prepare for the opening of the store and place a total of 65,000 products on the shelves within the 40,000 sq ft store – which is around 50 per cent bigger than the Cheltenham branch.
Mr Jones said it has been necessary to have a police presence to help control the sheer volume of traffic attracted to store openings in the past.
Tina Raja, 48, who lives in the city, was among the people to arrive at around 6.15am. She said: "The early bird catches the worm."
The new store has created a total of 120 jobs which has been welcomed by civic leaders.
Mr Jones said: “Everybody that is working here, including myself, is new to the Range which is fantastic.
“On March 24 all that there was here were magnolia racking, no display and no stock – there was absolutely nothing.
“And it has taken us from then until now it get it to this level.”
Councillor Chris Chatterton, Mayor of Gloucester, and Councillor Said Hansdot, deputy mayor, helped mark the opening of the store by cutting a ribbon.
Mr Chatterton said: “This is enormous. The range of goods here is astonishing and this is a real addition to the city.
“But what is interesting is a significant number of the jobs created are full time and not just part-time and zero-hour contracts.
“Investing in full-time permanent positions is what the city needs.”
The chain of stores is quickly expanding across the country - it has around 100 stores and another 25 are expected to open this year.