Waitrose’s Bath branch has kicked off the new year with a promising start. The immaculate store provided full availability and the checkout assistant was described as “friendly, cheerful and helpful” after she made polite conversation with our shopper, efficiently scanned her items and offered to pack her bags. The shopping trip was also a swift one as all items were easy to locate and plenty of open tills meant queuing time was kept to a minimum.
Sainsbury's in Aylesbury would have been vying for the top spot but for one out of stock item. The store was clean and tidy and several staff were busy stacking shelves. Our shopper noted a particularly helpful member of staff who tried to help her locate bread, and was impressed with the friendly checkout assistant, who asked her son if he had a nice Christmas.
Availability also let down Asda in Ashton-under- Lyne, though it excelled in customer service. One assistant went to the storeroom to try and locate a pineapple our shopper asked for and the checkout assistant packed his bags.
Morrisons in Swadlincote lacked in availability too, though our shopper said the checkout assistant was polite and noted it was easy to park near the store’s entrance.
Although queues were short and the store was tidy, Tesco in Brackley had three out of stock items and the checkout assistant did not offer to pack.
Winner: James Allen, store manager, Waitrose, Bath
How do you compete against other supermarkets in Bath?
We are located in the middle of Bath in a shopping centre and attract a wide variety of customers, including workers on their lunchbreak, weekly shoppers and elderly people. I do not see the other local supermarkets in the area as main competitors. We are bucking the trend of sales growth, with an increase of 3% year-on-year, and always do the best we can. We are always looking at opportunities to expand the store and our offer as well, as the branch is just 16,000 sq ft.
What were your Christmas bestsellers?
Our dry-aged wing ribs have been doing really well and our whole salmon was half price over Christmas. We have the best fresh service counters in Bath and they have continued to do excellently over the festive period.
Do you have an online service?
We offer a service for customers to order shopping in store and we deliver to addresses all around Bath. However, from May we will be offering the full online service and might add a third delivery van.
How are customers taking to the new cycle trailer offer?
Really well - we have had lots of positive feedback. Customers can borrow trailers to attach to their bikes to get their shopping home. It is still in the trial phase at the moment and customers have to register to make use of the service. We have three trailers and they seem to be going down well as Bath can get very congested with traffic.
How do you motivate staff?
As we are in a partnership and share the company's profits, the staff are very much self-motivated. Regular communication and the passing on of information is key, and we all want the branch to be the best it can be.
How did the store's workforce celebrate Christmas?
We had an excellent party at Bath racecourse, which was attended by 120 people. It was arranged by our very active social club, which also arranges regular events, including quiz nights and day trips around the country.
What is your New Year resolution for the store?
To continue being the best fresh food retailer in the area.