Q&A with Jim McCulloch Store manager of the week
What products are selling well at the moment? Unlike the average Morrisons, we have an oven fresh pie shop, which people drive from all over Edinburgh to shop at. Sales of these pies are up 45% on last year and our in-store sandwiches are up 28%. We want shoppers to know that Morrisons has the best fresh food, and this store in particular focuses on the fresh offer. Our footfall is up 12% on last year, which is a good indication that our strategy is working. How do you maintain such strong availability? Morrisons has a basic but effective ordering system. It is not hi-tech or automated, but it works well for us. Our availability is better than ever, as this award proves. Do you think Morrisons has improved its image? Our footfall is up, which I believe was helped by our Christmas marketing campaign, as well as the fresh offer. Since Christmas, we have noticed new shoppers visiting our store and we are beginning to recognise the same faces returning so we are succeeding at customer loyalty - at our rivals' expense. What gives your store the edge over your competitors? Our customer service. We have worked hard to provide superior service. A sizeable proportion of our staff are Polish and from the Far East, which goes down well with the local community because it is so multicultural. Has the role of store manager changed since you started in retail? Yes, but the biggest change has been the customers. They are a lot more picky and think more about where their food comes from. I believe that ethical issues, generated by the free-range egg debate, for example, will become more widespread. Customers are also more prepared to complain than ever before - and quite right, too. Our store is being included in a refurbishment programme this year, which will give us a more modern appearance - just in time for people moving into the new housing area nearby.
Asda Small Heath, Birmingham
0 - It was just as well this Asda outlet had clear signage because it was so big our shopper found it difficult to find all the items. The staff were helpful and the aisles were clean with no clutter. On-the-vine tomatoes were stocked instead of the standard variety. And of the 31 checkouts, only 17 were open. We visited on 22 February at 11.40am. Our shop lasted one hour. Time spent at the checkout was four minutes and 30 seconds.
Morrisons Crewe Toll, Edinburgh
0 - Our Morrisons shopper enjoyed her experience at this well-maintained store. She found all 33 items on the list and also enjoyed a chat with two of the floor assistants. Only seven of the 24 checkouts were operating, but our shopper noticed several more were being opened as she left the store. We visited on 22 February at 12.15pm. Our shop lasted 45 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was three minutes.
Sainsbury's High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
2 - This Sainsbury's store was fairly empty when our shopper visited and staff were making the most of the quiet period by restocking the shelves, which meant packing trolleys were in her way. The Ambrosia creamed rice and Cadbury Dairy Milk were out of stock, but staff were apologetic and efficient. We visited on 22 February at 2.03pm. Our shop lasted 45 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was five minutes.
Somerfield Bridport, Dorset
0 - This Somerfield branch provided all 33 items and the staff were friendly and welcoming. The store was tidy and there were plenty of good offers on Easter eggs. However, our shopper said pricing details for the promotions in the ambient section were confusing and the car park had no trolley drop-off areas. We visited on 22 February at 12.20pm. Our shop lasted 54 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was three minutes.
Tesco Yorkgate, Belfast
1 - The checkout operator at this store was too engrossed in filling out a questionnaire to pay any attention to our Belfast shopper, but staff on the sales floor were more polite. The trolleys were old but the store was clean with a logical layout. Availability was strong, with only the Ocean Spray cranberry juice sold out. We visited on 22 February at 6.00pm. Our shop lasted one hour and 12 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was three minutes.
Waitrose Cobham, Surrey
2 - A display of Waitrose's in-store magazines had been placed at the entrance to this small store, meaning shoppers had to walk around it to enter. The customer service was excellent but the loose onions and pears were out of stock. We visited on 22 February at 4.00pm. Our shop lasted 50 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was two minutes and 30 seconds.