What is selling well at the moment?
English asparagus and sales of locally produced fruit and vegetables have been outstripping other parts of the store in terms of year-on-year growth. I am getting positive feedback from customers. The combination of provenance and quality of our products is proving to be a great selling point.
Are any consumer trends particularly surprising you?
I am surprised by the ever-increasing awareness of superfoods. Every week there seems to be a new berry or pulse, but our Wholesome range has far exceeded expectations of appeal. Primary products such as aduki beans take so much preparation and effort. Saying that, the popularity of our fruit dessert range suggests that customers are indulging more. The message is: eat some beans then a nice pudding!
Do you face extra challenges by
being based in prosperous and foodie Harrogate?
People have high expectations of Waitrose here. With Harrogate's foodie reputation, our knowledge has to be on the button and staff receive accredited training to meet customers' high expectations of product knowledge. Our fish specialist goes to Billingsgate, while other staff are taught how to match specific cheese with wine.
People are desperate for the fear factor - lack of knowledge - to be removed!
How do you feel about the prospect of a Tesco Extra opening in
The proposal for the Tesco opening has met a fair amount of resistance. At first people were not bothered by it. But a recent survey revealed 69% of residents are against the opening. I think that a Tesco outlet would have a negative effect on Harrogate's road network. The unique thing about Harrogate is the number of small speciality shops located in the town centre. Tesco Extra would sell everything and would affect the trade of these specialists. It would be flippant to say it won't affect our store. But we're big enough to handle it.