POCKETS of shoppers were seen smiling outside The Food Warehouse store in Basingstoke as it opened for the first time this morning.

The supermarket, which is part of Iceland, offers a warehouse style format, and a much wider range of goods such as frozen, chilled and grocery products.

It is based at St Michael’s Retail Park and had previously delayed its opening date from early May to June.

The shop, which is set to create between 20 and 25 new jobs, is the first of its kind in the town.

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Our reporter, Bethany, interviewed two dog walkers, Brian Kiefer, 82, and Glenda Kiefer, 72, from Mansfield Road, who had noticed the store’s preparations weeks before opening.

Glenda told the Gazette: “The Food Warehouse is great, and we are glad the store is here. When we walk the dogs, we were interested to see how it was getting on.

“I heard on the news the shop was opening. This is good for the town and it’s the biggest one.

“We will be coming here but the trouble is with lockdown that grandchildren are getting the shopping. We are wary about going into shops.

“Prices are reasonable here and we will be coming back.”

The store manager, James, said there were 20 people lined up outside for the store’s opening at 8am.

But he said they chose not to give away freebies as it was a “soft opening” and it “didn’t feel right” to go for a full-on opening amid a global pandemic.

“I am excited and there is a lot of controversy opening up a shop during [the] Covid [pandemic] but we want to feed the nation and create jobs.

“Government guidelines we have to follow them. We are open 8-8pm every day and Sunday are 10-4pm.

“We will do first hour for NHS staff and care workers from 7-8am for the NHS. We are a cross between a lot of different stores.

“You can buy case saver, money off if you buy whole case and still buy single units. We do range of bigger packs for better value,” he continued.

Richard Stevens, 60, an NHS support worker from Basingstoke, told the Gazette: “It’s brilliant as there are things to buy in bulk. It saves you going into town.

“I always shop in Iceland. Iceland always has good prices. I have just seen scones for 50p. I will always be coming back.

“I thought it was only bulk but am pleased it’s not.

“They don’t do these deals in town. It works out cheaper to buy two for one. I was expecting a massive crowd today.

“Aisles are very spacious especially during these times.”