CUSTOMERS at Boswells in Oxford can take a break from shopping at the department store’s new cafe when it opens for the first time today.

Boswells started trading at 50 Cornmarket Street in 1738 and the store celebrated its 275th anniversary in 2013.

Now managers of the city’s largest independent department store have opened the 1738 Tea Room Cafe.

The store’s e-commerce manager Becky Jones said there would be waitress service at the new cafe on the first floor, next to the toy department.

She added: “We have made a significant investment in the cafe and it will be somewhere where customers can come and relax. This is something we have wanted to do for a couple of years and staff are very excited about it.

“We are a family-run firm and we attract a lot of families. The cafe is something we wanted to offer them – it’s another attraction at Boswells and is something customers have been asking for.”

The linens department has now relocated to the second floor, alongside bedroom and bathroom goods and new customer toilets.

Afternoon tea for two with tea or coffee costs £16.95 and the cafe will also offer a Continental-style breakfast, freshly-made sandwiches and pies, soups and quiches.

Ms Jones added that food would be sourced from local suppliers and the cafe would use British brands.

She said: “There is no doubt that the city centre has suffered from a drop in footfall this year and the roadworks have not helped at all.

“But there are lots of people coming into Oxford and our new cafe is another attraction and will hopefully keep customers with us for a little bit longer.

“We are here for the long-term and feel very positive about the future of the retail sector in the run-up to Christmas.”

Boswells opened its store 96 years before Harrods in London was founded.

It specialises in homeware, toys, travel, beauty and also has a pharmacy and health department.