Debenhams Wolverhampton: Thousands flock to opening of new city store
Eager shoppers queued for hours to get a look inside Wolverhampton's new Debenhams shop as it was finally unveiled to the public.
After months of hard work stretching back to January, the much-anticipated opening of the 93,000 sq ft department store inside the Mander Centre saw thousands of shoppers waiting to get inside for up to two hours before the ribbon was cut.
It was a morning of celebration for the city, with many predicting that the opening of Debenhams would provide a major boost to shopping in Wolverhampton.
It is estimated by Debenhams that 2,000 people turned up on their first morning in the city.
Speaking as the store was officially opened, councillor Elias Mattu, mayor of Wolverhampton, said: "This is an incredibly proud day and the culmination of a lot of hard work.
"I know the staff are very excited to welcome customers and that shoppers can't wait to see what is inside, I think they will take this store to their hearts.
"We are proud to host this beautiful store and we want to show Debenhams that Wolverhampton is not afraid to spend a little cash, so I hope people take advantage of the great items that are on offer."
Cheers rang out around the Mander Centre as former Wolves centre back Jody Craddock helped cut the ribbon at 10am, prompting a rush of shoppers inside the store to check out the clothes, perfumes, toys, foods and everything else on offer inside.
The footballer turned artist, 42, said: "I think it is great for Wolverhampton, it is good to see so many people out and together.
"I think Debenhams will do well here and hopefully have a positive impact on the shopping centre and the city as a whole in the years to come."
After taking over the site, which used to house TJ Hughes and Tesco, Debenhams cleared the space of walls and fitting.
Store designers were brought in and the place was designed according to chief executive Sergio Bucher’s new vision in a bid to create stores which encourage people to stay longer.
The small standard changing rooms were upgraded to larger rooms with mirrors featuring different light options.
Group-sized rooms are also available, with refreshments served to parties of people.
And rather than feature the standard cafe, the store boasts a deli Loaf and Bloom restaurant, while a 90-seat Costa Coffee is also positioned on the second floor.
It is only the second Debenhams store to feature the new design. Milton Keynes is the other.
Mander Centre manager Richard Scarenguivel said: "This is a real coup for us and we are honoured to be working with Debenhams.
"The store is beautiful and the amount of people who have turned up for its opening day is fantastic.
"This is only the second new Debenhams to open in England this year and we are proud to host it."
As well as boosting business in the city centre, Debenhams has contributed to the job economy in Wolverhampton, with 163 roles snapped up.
Store manager Alison Young said: "The last few weeks have been so hectic but it has definitely all been worth it.
"Opening days are the best when you are in this industry, people are really positive and happy to be here.
"I hope this is the start of a long and happy relationship between us and Wolverhampton."
For shoppers, the new store adds a touch of class to the city centre after the sad loss of BHS last August.
Beverly Linton, 59, from Blakenhall, said: "I think this will make a big difference to the city centre, people will definitely come out and take advantage of having such a great shop in Wolverhampton.
"I will certainly be spending a bit of money in there today.
"After losing BHS Wolverhampton needed something like this and I think it looks great."
Other shoppers commented on the positive that they may no longer need to travel outside of the Black Country to have access to top quality shops.
Abdul Rahmen, 58, from Goldthorn Park, Wolverhampton, said: "I didn't even know that it was opening today but once I saw it I had to join the queue.
"This is going to help regenerate Wolverhampton and I think shoppers will be more likely to stay in the city because they don't have to travel to Birmingham.
"I hope that it is a success and can stay in the city for a long time."