How long have you worked for
Thirty five years now, the last 25 as a store manager. I started in Portsmouth and have worked in 25 stores since then. In that time I have opened new stores in Maidenhead, Berkshire and Ringwood, Hampshire. I also managed the conversion of this store from Somerfield. That was a first for me.
What was the experience like?
It was a unique experience getting people into our culture. The Somerfield staff who joined us were already very good shopkeepers, so it was just a matter of getting them into our mindset. We are not just employees. Instead we share in this business as owners and think that way. The integration has been very successful and more than 60% of the original Somerfield staff are still with us.
Have you had a focus on customer service in the store recently?
Right now we are focusing on the process at the checkouts, ensuring that customers are able to get through quickly. We have also had a focus on leading the customer to the product, because we have a large holiday trade at this time of year and many customers are not familiar with our store layout. So it is also great to hear that your mystery shopper was happy with our performance with regard to that aspect of service.
What is unique about this store within the Waitrose chain?
The seasonal tourist business is one aspect. We are the only Waitrose store in Cornwall, and the most southwesterly store in the chain. This is also one of our smaller stores, at 17,000 sq ft, so we do not offer all our ranges.
What major changes do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Well, it is time to change over from the tourist season to the holiday trade, so that is the priority. In the longer term we would like to expand the store so that our customers can get the full Waitrose range that they want. And a coffee shop: that is becoming an expectation in a full-size retail store.