Our shopper had no problems finding the items at Asda in Park Royal, but she was not impressed with the assistant who told her to check again for the out-of-stock Mr Kipling's Deep Filled Bramley Apple Pies towards the end of her visit as the shelf was still empty. The checkout assistant was friendly but did not offer to pack.
Morrisons in Banchory had one out-of-stock item and there were three discrepancies between the shelf and receipt prices. Our shopper had trouble finding the Nutella and quiche lorraine but the staff were happy to help.
Sainsbury's in West Belfast had only opened in September and was immaculate. Staff were busy shelf-stacking but did not block the aisles. The checkout assistant packed our shoppers' bags without asking and even got out of her seat and put the shopping in his trolley.
Availability let Tesco in Mickleover down. Abandoned packing trolleys blocked the aisles and the queue was long. The staff were helpful, however, and the checkout assistant offered to pack.
Winner: Ashley Gaunt, store manager, Waitrose, Cheadle Hulme
What's the local competition like? Our nearest rivals are Sainsbury's, Tesco and M&S. My customers have told me they like shopping with us because our store is brighter and has wide aisles. They have really taken to our Essential range as well, which has nearly been fully rolled out. We are really focusing on offering the best service this Christmas and making sure we stock exactly what our customers want.
When did you join the store? I have been here for just 10 weeks and joined from the Four Oaks branch. I have been busy preparing for Christmas and ensuring our new Altrincham branch runs smoothly. There have been a lot of staff transferring from branches so we have had our work cut out recently.
How did the bonfire week go? Really well. We had some really strong firework sales and ran promotions on our sausages, soup and rolls. Our Hallowe'en range was very well received, too.
If you could change one thing about your store, what would it be? I would love to have a coffee shop here. We are planning to introduce one in the future, possibly next year because I think our customers would like that. There's not much else I would change.
How will your branch celebrate Christmas? Early next month we will be going to a local eaterie to celebrate so that should be good fun. The management team are also putting on a meal in a couple of months.
Tell me about your online service. It's doing really well and has grown 50% during the last year. We have just the one van and do not have any plans to introduce any more yet. The homeshop non-food online service is picking up since we launched the brochure.We have had some orders in our store.
How will you be tackling theft this Christmas? We are tagging all the high-priced spirits we offer and certain other lines such as expensive knives. We do not plan to tag our meat, though.
How do you motivate your staff? Communication is key. I make sure all the partners are fully informed about every part of the business, and praise them when they do well in driving customer service.