With attractions such as the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and a trendy shopping centre a mile away, Waitrose in Southsea, near Portsmouth's historic waterfront, may not be on the tourist trail but its colourful flower displays, enticing fireworks range and strong availability were enough for it to win this week's Top Store award. The store provided a full basket and impressed our shopper with its logical layout, cleanliness and sociable atmosphere. CACI indicated it was the best-suited store to the area despite the fact that a typical Waitrose store attracts 42% of shoppers classed as wealthy achievers, while none of the Southsea store's customers fall into that category. At 28 years old, the store is a well-established fixture in Southsea. "Developments such as the Lottery-funded Spinnaker Tower and Gunwharf Quays shopping mall have brought visitors to Portsmouth and help increase our footfall," said manager Simon Pinkston. "There were concerns that investment in the waterfront would detract visitors from travelling into our part of town. As a result, the branch has no shortage of customers though at only 15,000 sq ft, it can be quite cramped at times, he admitted. "Because we are small it can sometimes be a challenging and congested place to work," he said. "But business is good and sales are 3.5% up on last year and so we are obviously happy."

Q&A with Simon Pinkstone Store manager of the week


What products are selling well at the moment? Flowers. We have a beautiful plant and flower display at the front of the store because we went cap-in-hand to head office and asked for a new flower fixture. Beers, ciders and wines are also selling well - alcohol and flowers are in double-digit growth compared with last year. We are also selling fireworks for the first time ever and, although it involves a lot more safety procedures and legislation, they are proving popular. What is your average shopper like? They don't fit the average Waitrose shopper stereotype. There's a mix of loyal local customers who shop with us several days a week and tourists, students and secondary shoppers who do their bulk buying elsewhere. Southsea is a cosmopolitan London-style branch with a cross-section of social types. We don't rely on affluent customers at this store and don't sell as many fine food products, such as smoked salmon, as branches in Chichester or Waterlooville would. What is your competition like? It varies. Another Waitrose manager once told me I was lucky to be based here as Southsea is actually a peninsular and we would corner the market. But five years ago, a 42,000 sq ft Asda opened down the road. They are doing well there and obviously appeal to people on a tighter budget, but our quality fresh produce and customer service keeps our shoppers coming back. Many of our partners have developed warm relationships with our shoppers, which has built a great atmosphere in-store. What would you like to change about your store? It would be great to make it bigger. At times this is a congested shop and we have a high transaction count. There are some ranges we can't even stock but you can't put a quart into a pint pot as they say. With roads along one side and a listed building on the other, the chances of us expanding are slim, but never say never.