Hundreds of fashion-hungry shoppers queued from early morning eager to be among the first inside the new H&M store right in the heart of Londonderry city centre.
It is the retail giant’s first outlet in the city and it occupies a substantial section of the second floor of Foyleside Shopping Centre, where a bemused centre manager said the crowds exceeded even his expectations.
Fergal Rafferty said: “Foyleside are delighted to welcome H&M as the most recent new tenant to the scheme and with the fantastic response from our loyal shoppers.
“H&M are the world’s second largest global fashion retailer, represented in over 44 countries.
“Their strategy is to locate in the best possible business locations and we are delighted that Foyleside has been one of these preferred locations.
“We knew there was a keen interest in H&M from local shoppers, but the crowds for the opening beat all our expectations.”
Waiting at the front of the queue was 17-year-old David Pritchard, who had spent the night outside the shopping centre to make sure he was in prime position to grab a bargain.
Kathleen Kerr wasn't too far down the line and said she was familiar with the H&M stock and knew exactly what she was aiming for once the big red ribbon was cut and customers were allowed in.
She said: “I have never stood in a queue waiting for a shop to open but I wanted to come here and it is quite exciting seeing so many people.
“I have 10 grandchildren so I am hoping to make a good start on my Christmas shopping today.”
On the stroke of 11am the ribbon was cut and the rush was on.
The first 100 lucky customers were rewarded for their efforts with a £50 shopping voucher.
Maria McGavigan (27) came the whole way from Buncrana in Co Donegal especially for the opening and was delighted with her purchases.
She said: “As soon as I dropped the children off at school I drove straight here and I knew exactly what I was coming for.
“I spotted a lovely pink leather skirt in the window and had my eye on it and now I have one in my bag and I am well pleased.”
The H&M store brought Foyleside to full occupancy.
Fergal Rafferty said: “Foyleside has undergone quite a transformation since the beginning of 2012 with the recent expansion of Top Shop/Top Man and new arrivals Hoi Polloi, Jane Norman and Vogue which leaves the centre currently fully let.
“Marks & Spencer and Clarks have completed upgrades and Eason’s are currently undergoing a significant refurbishment project due to launch in early November.
“This reflects over £5m investment since the beginning of 2012 and underpins the confidence these tenants have in selecting Foyleside as their preferred location in a challenging retail climate.”