Sainsbury’s has launched its new-look flagship Scarborough store in Falsgrave - with help from a special guest.
Staff including store manager Rob Brookes were joined by Commercial Street resident Lena Pexton, 91, who was asked to cut the ribbon.
Mrs Pexton has lived next to the site for 56 years and remembers when the plot was an old railway goods yard.
When she was in her late teens, during the Second World War, she used to load up the wagons as part of her war work for Swifts.
Mrs Pexton said: “It has changed a lot since then! I think the new store is beautiful and the staff really looked after me - they were marvellous.
“Everyone was so nice and they gave me a lovely bunch of flowers. I was really glad I went.”
Mrs Pexton explained that she had been approached earlier this year by Sainsbury’s about the possibility of opening the new store.
She said: “When the manager asked me, he said you’d be doing me an honour.
“I said I’d think about it as I’d not been well all year, but I was so glad I was able to make it.
“I never thought I’d be asked to do something like this! It just shows you never know what’s in store for you.”
Children from Northstead School were also invited to the launch after taking part in a competition to design a “Bag for Life”.
Deputy headteacher Liz Griffiths explained: “We were approached by Sainsbury’s about running a competition with all the children and we were very pleased to be able to do that.
“The children drew their designs at home and they were collected in and sent off to head office to be judged.”
The overall winner, whose design now appears on a canvas bag, is five-year-old Sam Ball.
The runners up were Gemma Nelson and Evie Cullen, who both received a goody bag.
The youngsters were then treated to refreshments in the store’s new mezzanine-level cafe
Mrs Griffiths said: “We were really pleased for the children. Sam created a seaside design, which was relevant to Scarborough and to the new store.”
Work on expanding and improving the store has been going on since January this year and has created around 120 new jobs.
The store was recently closed for a week so workmen could add the finishing touches to the refurbishment.
Store manager Rob Brookes said: “We’re all very excited about launching the new store.
“Everyone has worked so hard to make sure that we give something great back to the Scarborough community so I really hope our customers like what’s been done.”
The new and improved store will stock Sainsbury’s’ full range of food products, as well as homeware items and the award-winning Tu clothing range.
The store’s new mezzanine floor will also feature a brand new customer cafe serving hot meals, snacks and drinks.
The ground floor has also been expanded, creating 33,900 sq ft of retail space.
Paul Happell, project manager at Barr Construction, the contractor building the store extension, said: “The extension and refurbishment of the store has resulted in significant improvements to the facility and we hope Sainsbury’s colleagues, customers and the surrounding community will benefit from these. “We are proud to have delivered a wide range of projects for Sainsbury’s over the past three years and look forward to continuing our relationship with them on future developments.”
Mr Brookes added: “I really feel that the store improvements will give our customers, and of course our colleagues, a better shopping and working experience.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished here.”