A NEW M&S Food store is set to open in Southampton this week.

The shop, at Shirley Retail Park on Winchester Road, will bring 44 new jobs to the city.

It will launch without the usual fanfare of an M&S store opening on Wednesday.

With a nod to current coronavirus conditions, the ribbon cutting ceremony to declare the store open will be delayed and instead a community party held when things return to normal later in the year.

Retail chiefs are to open the store this month as expected in a bid to bring more essential supplies to the city, particularly for staff at the nearby University Hospital Southampton.

Aaron Spicer, M&S Head of Region for the South Coast, told the Daily Echo: “The team has been working extremely hard to get the store ready to committed timelines and, when open, we will be supporting the community in every way we can. Our new store will offer locals everyday essentials, as well as a wide range of fresh produce.

“We want to make sure everyone gets what they need in the coming weeks so, in line with other M&S stores, we will have special opening hours in place for NHS and emergency services workers, as well as special hours for the elderly and vulnerable."

On its first day, M&S Shirley Food will open at 10am, but from then on, the store will be open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and from 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays.

In line with other M&S Food stores, the store will be setting aside the first hour of trading on certain days for older and vulnerable customers (Monday and Thursdays), and NHS and emergency services workers (Tuesdays and Fridays).

In the current climate, the store is set to focus heavily on every day essentials including bread milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, pasta and rice, but will also be well stocked with Easter eggs, lamb, hot cross buns and other seasonal food.

M&S Shirley Food is opening on the site previously occupied by Currys PC World, which has been vacant for several years.

It is expected to have a 730sqm sales area.