Was this store operating under a different banner recently?
This used to be a Safeway store. I was already the manager here when Somerfield bought this store from Morrisons. We went through a conversion and refurbishment process a year and a half ago.
How long did you work at Safeway ?
All my working life actually. I am 40 now, but I started off at age 16 working Saturdays and moved all the way up to store manager.
What was your most memorable experience while working for Safeway?
I was deputy general manager for the launch of its flagship store in Woking, Surrey. The store was quite advanced for its time. It had the UK's biggest meat and fish counter, a restaurant, a juice bar and other cutting edge features the company wanted to try out. However, that was a very large store. It was more a remote experience than the role of manager in a smaller store such as this. Here you are more hands on and closer to the action.
What local competitor is most challenging for you in this store?
There is a Waitrose here but our store is about convenience more than anything else. There are many independent stores nearby, but we are stronger across the board than them on availability, presentation, service and ease of shopping.
Have you had any new initiatives here recently?
We have started doing what we call 'afternoon rumbles'. That means that at some point before the evening rush we gather all managers and staff who are not on a checkout. We then collectively go through a quick tidy up and restocking, so that we are in good shape for the next wave of customers.
Are there any major changes coming up in this store soon?
This store was remodelled just a year and a half ago but now all the Somerfield stores are going through a rolling remodelling programme. We expect that will happen here in this store some time after Christmas.