Q&A with Mike Jarrett Store manager of the week
What is new in the store? Our smoothie bar is the centre-piece and nucleus of the store and has already been so successful it will be rolled out across other Asda branches from Easter. Next to it is a new produce section with black non-slip flooring, spotlights and specially angled crates which disguise the plastic fixtures and make the food the only thing visible. We also have nine 32-inch LCD televisions which are arranged like a cinema screen in the electronics area. Whatever DVD we have chosen to demonstrate on the screen has sold out within a day. The screen can be seen from one end of the store to the other and draws the crowds. Any new gadgetry in the food areas? We are the first Asda to go live with a bread vending machine in the bakery which loads frozen bread rolls into an oven, bakes them and then drops the rolls into a container for the customers. We also display our in-store bakery products before the branded items to emphasise the freshness of our own baked products. What were the big sellers over Christmas? A £50 electric guitar was popular, especially after one of the colleagues knocked out a few tunes on it for the customers. We had a drum kit on display, but after a few days of customers' noisy drumming and headaches I'm not sure we will have another kit on show too soon. Are you concerned your store is overwhelming in its size? No. This store is like a shopping centre: a multitude of smaller stores under one roof made individual by the unique decor in each department. This makes the store more personable. My biggest competition is the mall next door to us where a shopper might go to Marks & Spencer for clothing, Currys for electronic goods and Morrisons for food, but our unique offering is so far drawing the customers in and they know they will find value for money at Asda. We are not the average Asda store, though
Asda Patchway, Bristol
0 - This huge Asda branch had an extensive refit last year and was sporting clean and modern fixtures and fittings. The aisles were spacious and the fish and meat counters were large and attractively merchandised. The store had excellent availability and provided a full basket. Our shopper found the customer service to be outstanding. We visited on 4 January at 10.36am. Our shop lasted 39 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was three minutes.
Morrisons Tameside, Greater Manchester
3 - Although customer service was excellent at this store, availability was poor. The tomato purée, Heinz tomato soup and Hula Hoops were all out of stock. However, the aisles were clean and there was a large number of special offers and reductions across the store. The checkout staff were chatty and polite. We visited on 4 January at 12.40pm. Our shop lasted one hour and 19 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was eight minutes.
Sainsbury's Camden, London
3 - Availability has been a problem across most of the stores surveyed this week and this Sainsbury's was no different, with the McCain chips, beef rump steak and Aquafresh toothpaste out of stock and the white seedless grapes were not stocked at all. But our shopper found the store easy to navigate and the signposting was clear. We visited on 4 January at 6.30pm. Our shop lasted one hour. Time spent at the checkout was four minutes.
Somerfield Stepps, Glasgow
5 - A helpful floor assistant apologised for the gaps on the shelves of this Somerfield, explaining that they were awaiting deliveries. Five items were out of stock: the mushrooms, mange tout, Ginsters pasty, beef rump steak and wholemeal loaf. Customer service was good and the store was well maintained. We visited on 4 January at 11.05am. Our shop lasted one hour and two minutes. Time spent at the checkout was four minutes.
Tesco Newtownards, County Down
1 - The level of tidiness impressed our shopper, but he was not impressed that staff took so long to clear a large spillage near the fresh food counters. Otherwise, the floor staff were generally very helpful, though the checkout operator failed to greet our shopper. The mushrooms were sold out and three other items were not stocked. We visited on 4 January at 3.28pm. Our shop lasted one hour and 25 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was five minutes.
Waitrose Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
0 - This store has only been open for two months and its spacious aisles and fixtures were spotlessly clean. Staff were polite and the shelves were fairly well stocked and, with a full basket of 33 items, it was a close contender for our Top Store award. We visited on 4 January at 1.10pm. Our shop lasted 42 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was two minutes and 30 seconds.