SAINSBURY’S manager Tim Maginnis is looking forward to the retailer’s first full year in Bognor Regis for decades.
It was 1989 when the company last traded in the town for 12 months.
That 24-year gap has been bridged by the opening of the firm’s store on Shripney Road.
It has been greeted enthusiastically by shoppers around the town.
Mr Maginnis said: “I’m really looking forward to the coming year.
“Business has been good in the initial weeks. We have been really pleased with how things have gone.
“We are well ahead of our budget. Sales are going fantastically well and we are getting good feedback from our customers as well.
“Our number of customers was averaging about 60,000 a week before Christmas. That’s a lot of footfall.
“We were so busy that it caused some problems in our cafe because of the high demand. But I’m confident we have now got those difficulties sorted out.”
The early weeks of the store’s trading also included extremely-high rainfall which filled the neigbouring Aldingbourne Rife to the brim.
But Mr Maginnis said the store had been designed and built to ensure it could stay open even if some flooding of the site occurred.
Any excess water would run off into the basement to mean it was business as usual on the shopfloor.
Mr Maginnis, who was born and raised in Bognor, is already looking ahead to the summer.
“It’s been really great seeing a lot of old friends that I haven’t seen for many years,” he said.
“There is a lot to look forward to. I think this summer is going to be like Christmas for us,” he said.
“I’m planning to have a couple of extra ovens outside so people can eat pizzas in the open air.
“There’s also the chance to have a mobile cafe serving up food like fish and chips.”
The branch opened on November 21 after years of anticipation. It was built on the former Lec fridge and freezer factory.
Approval was given by a planning inspector because of the regeneration effect on a derelict site and the potential of the store to stop customers travelling to Sainsbury’s at Chichester.
The store’s workforce numbers 365 and 265 of them are new Sainsbury’s employees. One-fifth of the jobs are full-time and the rest are part-time.