At Tesco in New Malden, our shopper was only able to buy 29 of the 33 items, and when she asked an assistant for help finding the new potatoes, he simply pointed at the item, rather than guiding her to it. The checkout assistant, meanwhile, was talking to a colleague while scanning the items, rather than paying attention to customer service.
A staff member called Lizzie gave an impressive level of customer service at Waitrose in Lewes. She took our shopper to find several items and made conversation about the weather. Litter was visible in the car park, however, and the fresh produce department looked low on several items.
At Asda in Ipswich, the new potatoes and courgettes were out of stock. However, an assistant was very friendly and tried to find the items. There were lots of deals running on meat, including a £1 offer on Irish sausages and discounts on gammon and Bernard Matthews chicken.
Our shopper at Morrisons in Airdrie was able to buy 32 of the items only the Moaom Stripes were out of stock. Staff were friendly and it was easy to park.
Winner: Phil Harris, store manager, Sainsbury’s, Leamington Spa
What improvements have been made to the store? In September 2008 we reopened after a major refit that took the store from 55,000 sq ft to 74,000 sq ft. We widened the aisles, got extra footage for fresh foods and also got a large non-food and leisure area. The feedback from customers is that they really like the width of the aisles, which means you can shop with ease. We also know that we've got new customers as they ask where the bread and milk are located.
Is there anything still to improve? I absolutely love this store, but it is such a busy site, I'd like to double the size of the car park. We've spent quite a big of money on putting in another exit, so the flow has improved a bit.
Who is your nearest competitor? We are split between an Asda and a Tesco, which are a couple of miles apart. When we were refitted, Asda also had a revamp of its non-food, but we are competing really well.
What are your particularly strong areas? We have one of the busiest petrol stations in the whole Sainsbury's estate. We are on a retail park with an Argos and several clothing retailers, and we are next to the M40. The petrol station was re-opened with the store.
How did you cope with the snow? Our colleagues were second to none. A lot of them live, like me, in the local villages and it was a struggle to get in but nearly every colleague got in. I'm really proud of them. On the past two Wednesdays when the snow was bad it affected trade but on the subsequent Fridays and Saturdays the uplift was phenomenal. It was like Christmas again, it was absolutely heaving. By the end of the day you could see we had been well traded. We have a fairly local depot so distribution and logistics were superb, and things just sold incredibly quickly.
Are you getting any new ranges in? We are extending a range called Sportsworld and Waterworld, with new sports kit and wetsuits and drysuits. We were one of the top 10 stores for wetsuits last year. We're not a coastal store but we did extremely well.
What is next for you? I'm leaving soon to take up a field role working with stores on non-food ranges.