A brand new two-storey Marks and Spencer has opened in Birmingham's Bullring shopping centre, in the unit once occupied by Debenhams.
It marks a new chapter in the city for the retailer, which had been located on High Street since 1904. The 65,000sq ft (6,038sq m) enterprise is one of several new M&S stores to open in England this month following an investment of £80m.
Despite cost-of-living issues, managers have said retail remains strong. M&S said through November it would be launching at least one new store every seven days - two further new openings are planned, alongside three new food halls and a further three store revamps.
It is part of plans by the retailer to switch from 247 stores to 180 higher quality ones, alongside ambitions to open more than 100 improved food outlets by 2027-28. Manager of the new Birmingham store Emily King said it was brilliant to bring an empty unit in the Bullring back to life.
"We've opened in the heart of Birmingham," she said. "It's a huge investment in the city centre which we're really excited about."
In January, M&S said 3,400 jobs would be created in the UK as part of plans to revamp stores. The retailer returned to the FTSE 100 index of Britain's biggest listed companies in August for the first time in four years, after a surge in its share price.
Strong performances from recently relocated stores had given the brand "the confidence to go faster", it said. Sacha Berendji, M&S operations director said: "Increasing numbers of customers are heading back in to stores to experience the best of M&S all under one roof, supported by outstanding service from our colleagues, and we expect this to continue as we head into Christmas.
Alongside the store openings, more than 10,000 new customer assistants are being recruited to support stores over the festive period, a 40% increase on last year.