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New-look M&S store reveals a touch of glass; Futuristic see-through frontage is jewel in crown of retail giant's pounds 20m city centre makeover.

Byline: Sarah Miloudi

CITY shoppers will today see a new-look Marks and Spencer unveiled in Cardiff.

The Queen Street store has under gone a pounds 20m facelift and now includes a striking glass box on its first floor.

The makeover is the largest ever to be undertaken by M&S in Wales, and took 200 workers 40 weeks to complete.

Store manager Darren Rayner said: "It's been a lot of hard work from all the staff to get the store ready for today's launch but I think it's definitely paid off.

The store looks fantastic and I am delighted to welcome our customers inside."

The 80-tonne glass facade has been built surrounding the store's cafe, which has moved from the second to the first floor of the shop.

"It gives customers an enviable view of the city and was designed to complement the M&S Grade II listed building which lies behind it," said John Westlake, project manager of the refurbishment.

"City centre facilities are always a major talking point and we are happy to provide a new cafe within easy reach for shoppers," he added.

"People can come into the store either before or after doing their shopping, sit down, and from the mezzanine get a view of what's happening below them on Queen Street."

The revamped store also includes the Autograph clothing range for men and a home technology department, located on the second floor. The department has been stocked with Sony and Samsung flat-screen televisions, satellite navigation systems and digital radios.

Other new features include automatic sliding doors at the Queen Street entrance, self-service checkouts and a hot food to go area where shoppers and business people can pick up a speedy readymade lunch.

A new staff shower, designed to encourage M&S employees to cycle to work, has also been fitted, as have water and energy systems, in line with the company's five-year eco plan, Plan A.

EXTRA FLOOR SPACE FOR SHOPPING

An extra 4,000sq ft has been added to the shop floor. The total store floor space is now 71,020sq ft.

10 self-service tills installed in the food hall.

Cafe with space for 120 shoppers.

New concessions including a hot food to go counter, a technology department and the Autograph clothing range for men.

An 80-tonne glass facade, built to surround the store cafe. Shoppers can sit on the mezzanine and look out onto Queen Street.

WHAT CUSTOMERS THOUGHT OF IT...

"It definitely looks different. A week rarely goes past when I don't come into Marks and Spencer and I think it looks nice."

Ann Sherry, 71, retired personnel officer, Cyncoed, Cardiff.

"I haven't seen all of the changes but I am looking forward to looking round the store. It's nice being able to sit in the cafe and look out at what's happening below."

Shirley Penn, 70, retired solicitor's private secretary, Whit church, Cardiff.

"We have just set foot inside the store and the change certainly hits you between the eyes straightaway. It looks lovely."

Elton Bridges, 75, retired manufacturing worker and his wife, Gillian, 72, retired travel agent, Nelson.

CAPTION(S):

MODERN FACADE: Project manager John Westlake in front of the new glass exterior of Marks and Spencer in Queen Street, Cardiff PICTURES: Andrew Davies; WHAT'S INSTORE: Customer Gillian Bridges, of Quakers Yard, checks out the revamped store; TAKING A BREAK: Shoppers Ann Sherry, left, and Shirley Penn enjoy a drink at the new glass-walled coffee shop with views over Queen Street
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 12, 2008
Words:581
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