Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland opened proceedings at the new Westfield Stratford City shopping centre this morning declaring that the M&S store will “carry the torch for the best of UK retailing”.

M&S, Westfield Stratford

Continuing the Olympics analogy, Bolland likened the crowds outside the store facing the M&S Stratford team to a “rugby match”.

Elsewhere, shoppers queued from 6am to get inside the centre. Winnie Wechie, first in the queue outside Forever21 said: “The centre will bring the community together. The range of shops is diverse but it’s all under one roof.”

Another shopper, Bhavyang Patel, said he won’t need to travel as far as the West End to go shopping anymore. “There are a lot of restaurants here too which this area didn’t have before,” he added.

The £1.45bn development brings 1.9m sq ft of retail and leisure space and has 300 shops including Ann Summers, Forever 21, Superdry and Clarks.

Department store John Lewis anchors the scheme with a 260,000 sq ft store. The £35m store is the retailer’s only full-line shop to debut this year.

Many retailers are showcasing new format stores including Zara and Marks & Spencer.