Morrisons has surged to joint first position at the top of our customer service leader board with its third Top Store triumph in four weeks. Its Pontefract branch in West Yorkshire sealed the victory with helpful and polite floor staff and strong availability. The checkout staff at the 28,000 sq ft branch worked faster than any other store to process Bank Holiday queues. Our shopper found the quality of the fresh produce in the Market Street area to be excellent and was impressed with the stylish interior, which came courtesy of Morrisons' nationwide store refresh scheme. The outlet has had to wait 18 long years for the brighter lights and smarter fixtures and store manager Andrew Glendinning said the new look was helping entice shoppers from his rival next door. "We have a huge Tesco across the road, which presents us with strong competition, but our customer counts have soared since November and we have kept those new shoppers thanks to our refurbished interior and beating the competition on availability," said Glendinning. He was unsurprised that CACI data found Morrisons to be the best-suited store to Pontefract, which boasts the ideal number of wealthy achievers and residents of moderate means for Morrisons. "We are in traditional Morrisons territory and have the advantage of being more of a familiar name to people around here than other retailers," added Glendinning.

Q&A with Andrew Glendinning Store manager of the week

Has Morrisons toned down its Northern roots to appeal to Southerners? I don't think so, but it is important to appeal to all kinds of people all around the country, and our advertising has done that successfully. We are proud of where we come from and will increase our local offers in store in a few weeks. But Morrisons is all about keeping things simple and providing good customer service and availability. Customers require those qualities regardless of where they live. What kind of local foods will you stock? In two weeks, we will stock a variety of meats and cheeses from Yorkshire. I hope they sell better than Pontefract cakes, which people aren't too bothered by around here. Which products are selling well at the moment? Pre-packed fresh food is doing exceptionally well. Market Street, wines and beer are also selling well along with our barbecue range of meats now the weather has finally improved. Have you noticed more people buying own-label products? Yes, our own-label products are proving more popular as shoppers are watching the pennies. The packaging design of Morrisons' own label foods also has been redesigned and looks more attractive. Do you have on-shelf price com- parison info like Tesco and Asda? No we don't tend to resort to that kind of thing. Tesco has a big sign in its store entrance, which compares prices to other retailers, but we prefer to keep it simple and let our low prices and promotions do the talking for us. How do you manage such strong availability? We are in constant communication with our distribution centre and it is an area in which the whole company is working hard on at the moment. We are fortunate as there are a number of other Morrisons branches around us, which can supply us with certain products if we run out. Another benefit of being in Morrisons' heartland!


ASDA thurmaston, leicestershire.

0 - This store was generally tidy, although several items of clothing in the George area were lying on the floor. The fruit and vegetables area was filled with fresh-looking produce but the frozen Aunt Bessie's pie was not stocked. The main disappointment was in the customer service. Our shopper asked a few different assistants for the whereabouts of products but none knew the location or offered to find out. There were lots of multibuy offers across the store. We visited on 2 May at 12.05pm. Our shop lasted 55 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was three minutes and 30 seconds. 

MORRISONS Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

0 - The standard of tidiness at this store was faultless and the floor was spotlessly clean. When our shopper asked for help from floor staff, the assistants were polite and quickly guided her to the items. Signage was visible and clear, and availability was good, although the required variety of Hovis loaf was not stocked. The checkout operator was cheerful and offered to pack the bags. There were 20 checkouts and 12 were open, which was adequate. We visited on 2 May at 6.20pm. Our shop lasted one hour and 10 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was three minutes. 

SAINSBURY'S Salford, Greater Manchester. 

1 - This large Sainsbury's branch ticked all the boxes as far as tidiness was concerned and the customer service was very good, with enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff on the sales floor. The main area in which the store suffered was availability. The milk section was almost empty and there were no four-pint bottles of semi-skimmed milk. Frijj and the Aunt Bessie's pie were not stocked and the Fairtrade bananas were covered in damp mud. We visited on 2 May at 2.00pm. Our shop lasted one hour and 18 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was six minutes.

TESCO Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire.

2 - There was a large variety of special offers at this clean and tidy Tesco Extra - most notably on the half-price fresh produce. The items were generally easy to find, although the Quorn and eggs were out of stock. Other gaps on shelves were being restocked and the floor staff were well-mannered and friendly. At the checkout, however, the operator did not say hello to our shopper or offer to help pack her bags. A sufficient 19 of the 31 checkouts were open. We visited on 2 May at 3.25pm. Our shop lasted one hour. Time spent at the checkout was five minutes.

WAITROSE Northampton.

1 - The wide aisles of this clean and tidy Waitrose gave the whole store an airy and spacious feel. There were no packing trolleys cluttering the aisle and the store was well-signed, which was just as well as our shopper had difficulty locating the items. Availability was generally good, although the Tropicana juice was not stocked. The checkout operator was pleasant but our shopper was disappointed not to spot any bags for life anywhere near the queue area. We visited on 2 May at 4.30pm. Our shop lasted 45 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was four minutes.Asda Thurmaston, Leicestershire