THE cold and darkness didn’t deter three hardy shoppers who ‘camped out’ overnight to be first in the queue when supermarket giant Asda opened its doors on Monday morning.
Newly-engaged couple Faolan Clark and Zarah Large, from Jervis Street in Portadown, were presented with a bouquet of flowers and a gift voucher as the store’s first official customers.
They had apparently arrived at the Bridge Street store around 11pm on Sunday night, followed three hours afterwards by Bleary man Alex Reaney who invited them to sit out the rest of the eight-hour wait in his car.
Around 800 shoppers queued outside the £40 million store, which was officially opened by the town’s ‘golden girl’ Dame Mary Peters.
There were also queues at the filling station forecourt, with opening prices of 129.7ppl for petrol and 136.7ppl for diesel.
The opening was also attended by the Mayor of Craigavon, Councillor Carla Lockhart, Upper Bann MP David Simpson, MLA Sydney Anderson and other local dignitaries.
Dame Mary said, “I’m really proud of this town and its people and consider it to be a very important part of my past. So I’m delighted to be here with Asda today and to play my part in what I consider to be an investment in the future of Portadown. “This represents a great boost for the area, creating much needed jobs, attracting more shoppers into the town, and offering local families the choice, quality and value they need during these tough economic times.”
Store manager Robert Ryans, a Portadown native, added, “What a fantastic way to celebrate our arrival in Portadown! Mary Peters is an absolute legend and we will do everything possible to live up to her spirit of fairness, honesty, and community respect.
“I thank everyone who has helped us in the run-up to today, particularly our great team of colleagues who are the face of Asda and will help us deliver the value and service which local people really want.”
An Asda spokesperson said, “Response to the new store has been phenomenal with over 11,000 applications for the 450 jobs on offer. In addition to the full food and non-food ranges, Portadown is the first Asda supermarket in Northern Ireland to offer its ‘Click & Collect’ service, allowing shoppers to order online and collect their shopping from the store when it best suits them.
“The Portadown store is also the ninth in Northern Ireland to sell petrol, which is widely regarded as one of the main money-saving benefits for the people of the area.
“Asda is famous for being the first supermarket to reduce the price of fuel, and this was evident with opening prices of 129.7ppl for petrol and 136.7ppl for diesel at its Portadown store. This is in sharp contrast to current fuel prices in Portadown, which average at 134.9ppl for petrol and 141.9ppl for diesel.”
Mr Simpson said, “It was a delight to be one of the first through the doors of the ASDA store and to welcome Dame Mary Peters back to familiar ground. I have campaigned for many years for the rejuvenation of the Edenderry area and this £40 million investment is a major step in the right direction.”