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Scores of shoppers queued up in the Chelmsford drizzle to be the first customers at the city's new Bond Street shopping and dining development.
The first store to open was John Lewis, which opened to long queues at 9.30am.
The three-storey department store is the anchor for the new Bond Street development which features retailers including Foyles, Cath Kidston, Fat Face, Hotel Chocolat, Jack Wills, Oasis, Tag Heuer and White Stuff. Restaurants including Byron Burgers, Coast to Coast and Las Iguanas are also set to open in future weeks.
A multscreen Everyman Cinema is set to open in December.
John Lewis’ branch manager Laura Rawstron said: “Today is a really exciting time for John Lewis and we’re delighted to open the doors to our first shop in Essex."
The new store, measuring 90,000 square feet stocks more than 65,000 products and cost around £18 million to build. It's brought more than 300 new jobs to the city.