A CONTROVERSIAL new Tesco Express store finally opened its doors in Wanstead today.

The store opened at 7am, replacing the defunct Woolworth's branch in the High Street, and several customers have already been spotted inside, despite calls from a local campaign group for residents to boycott the outlet.

The group tried and failed to prevent the shop from gaining an alcohol licence and has asked shoppers to steer clear of it in a bid to boost trade in Wanstead's smaller independent stores.

A series of delays held up the opening of the store, including a lack of electricity at the end of last year, and campaigners vowed to keep up the fight against it as they believe it will "destroy" local trade.

But Tesco has said the new store will help Wanstead residents to do their shopping locally and even welcomed the trade of one of the campaigners, Ashley Gunstock, of Cranbourne Avenue, who admitted using the Leytonstone branch.

Mr Gunstock blamed the demise of traditional local stores for forcing shoppers to use large supermarket chains.

Tesco also gave a donation of £500 to Wanstead Church School at the official opening.