Whole Foods Market opens in Cheltenham
Hundreds of shoppers today flocked into the new Whole Foods Market in Cheltenham
It has created 150 new jobs and is selling more than 350 products from Gloucestershire.
A bread breaking ceremony, carried out by Cheltenham mayor Colin Hay, Cotswold chef Rob Rees, regional president of the company Jeff Turnas and store team leader Mary Cunningham heralded the opening of the store.
A drumming Samba band played to mark the opening before hundreds of shoppers scoured the new shelves.
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Mary told the crowds: “I am so excited to bring this new store to the UK. I am sure when you go through the doors you will see the highest quality food and beautiful destination store in the Cotswolds.
“We have been given the warmest welcome from people that live in this community.”
Reporter Michael Yong had a sneak preview of the store yesterday.
He said: "It was bigger than I expected and there was a lot there. I liked that the food was natural."
Inside, customers will be greeted by freshly-squeezed juice and an array of fruits.
Further in is a spice selection, with goodies like roast petal Masala, Himalayan rock salt and fresh almond butter.
There are shelves of beer from across Gloucestershire and wines from around the world, before you reach the wonderful smell of the different cheeses of the county.
Nearby there are two taps serving cider and beer from Stroud, a fishmonger, a butchers and coffee from around the world.
Sweet-toothed shoppers can delight in cupcakes and muffins, made in the Whole Foods kitchen, before reaching a display of cooked goods, from pizza to roast chicken.
The store, in Gallagher Retail Park, stocks more than 330 Gloucestershire-sourced products and calls itself the "all natural" option.
Mary Cunningham, store team leader, said: "It is such a wonderful opportunity to be able to open a store here. It will showcase the highest quality all-natural food and beauty brands."
She added the business had taken on 182 staff members including 150 from either Cheltenham or Gloucestershire.
"The community really speaks to me, and it's important we are part of it," she added.
About five per cent of the proceeds from the opening day will go to a Cheltenham-based charity, County Community Projects (CCP).
Surplus food at the store will not be thrown away, but will be donated as food parcels to CCP.
Cordell Ray, chief executive of CCP, said "We are always looking for ways we can add value to the service we provide.
"We will receive about 600 parcels from the store over the year, and that will go to the young people at our accommodation."
The store will also support two other charities, The Butterfly Garden, an educational, therapeutic and recreational scheme in Bamfurlong Lane, and the Wiggly Worm, which tries to promote health, well -being and self-esteem among the vulnerable and disadvantaged.
The store will also invite pupils from the Wiggly Worm to their kitchens for a cookery demonstration.
Jeff Turnas, Regional President for Whole Foods Market UK said: “We chose the site in Cheltenham because we felt it offered us a fantastic opportunity to show Cheltenham and the whole of Gloucestershire what we can do.
“We’re very proud of our new store, of our 180 new team members and of course, our 300+ local products which will give our shoppers a fantastic choice of all-natural goods.”