No retailer is less suited to the East Sussex town of Newhaven than Sainsbury's, according to CACI data, but store manager Tim Maginnis has instilled real competitive spirit in his staff and they reaped the rewards with this week's service award. The 38,000 sq ft store provided a full basket of goods and staff were keen and knowledgeable, accompanying customers to different products and tidying or restocking their sections. Maginnis was surprised to learn that Sainsbury's was the least-suited store to Newhaven. His rival stores - Tesco, Morrisons, Somerfield and Asda - are all better suited to the catchment as they attract more residents who fall into the comfortably off category. However, in his two years managing the store Maginnis has developed many tactics to steal customers from his competitors. "Establishing clear points of difference to local competitors, such as a cafe and a car wash, is essential for survival in a retailer-heavy town like this," he said. "The Grocer 33 shows our prices are lower than Somerfield. The CACI data is stacked against us so all we can do is give our store the strongest chance of being the best." Sainsbury's head office obviously has confidence in his leadership. Maginnis has also been co-managing its Hastings branch while a new store manager is being appointed.

Q&A with Tim Maginnis Store manager of the week

What have you done to give your store the edge over rivals? First of all I browse the local Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose each week to see what promotions they are running and how good availability is. We are fortunate to have an in-store cafe, which overlooks the harbour. It is being refurbished in the next couple of months and none of our rivals offer this facility. We are also opening a petrol station, which offers a car wash, and starting online deliveries soon. What is selling well at the moment? Our Taste the Difference ranges are doing extremely well and are now among the biggest-selling brands. Own label is a big growth area because customers recognise our ranges offer premium quality. Sainsbury's has invested in sampling to drive sales of own label and we have seen the benefits of higher sales since Christmas. Is there any area that's not doing so well? Frozen ready meals are becoming less popular. It is a trend that indicates customers have greater confidence in the quality of fresh food and ingredients. I think this is because cooking from scratch at home is becoming more important. New stores will often situate fresh foods more prominently than frozen ready meals. Even kids are more stimulated by food. We visited a primary school offering Cheddar cheese and a girl asked me for Camembert. How good is your availability? Our availability checks are sophisticated, making the process quicker and simpler for staff. We have reduced the amount of buffer stock we hold in the warehouse because our deliveries have become more accurate and drivers are hitting delivery times more frequently. This is great because staff can devote more time to helping customers and less time to stacking shelves. If you could change your store in any way, what would you do? Customers have repeatedly requested a clothing range and there is scope for a department, as decent clothing shops are limited in Newhaven.


Asda Rivergate Centre, Peterborough

0 - With no out-of-stock items at this store, Asda has achieved its fourth full basket in as many weeks. Despite having a Tesco Extra on its doorstep, it was busy and staff were enthusiastic. However, several packing trolleys were being unloaded at the time, which caused congestion. Of the 22 checkouts, 19 were open, which was sufficient. We visited on 8 February at 10.48am. Our shop lasted one hour. Time spent at the checkout was six minutes.

morrisons Hartcliffe, Bristol

0 - This four-month-old store provided all 33 items, but our shopper was appalled by the poor-quality fresh produce. Tomatoes were split open and fruit looked rotten. When our shopper noticed the bread packaging was damaged, the checkout operator, who was uncommunicative, took five minutes to organise a replacement. We visited on 8 February at 10.55am. Our shop lasted one hour. Time spent at the checkout was 15 minutes.

sainsbury's Newhaven, East Sussex

0 - Presentation appeared to be a priority at this busy store and staff were working hard to keep the floor clean and shelves fully stocked. Overall, availability was strong and all 33 items on our shopper's list were provided. Staff seemed cheerful and happy to stop what they were doing to help customers. We visited on 8 February at 10.20am. Our shop lasted 45 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was seven minutes.

somerfield Saxmundham, Suffolk

2 - This clean and spacious Somerfield provided a good shopping experience in the sense that it had wide aisles and fresh produce was top quality. However, the lack of staff let the store down and queues were too long because only four of eight checkouts were operating. The cheese and sausages were sold out. We visited on 8 February at 3.45pm. Our shop lasted 55 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was 12 minutes.

tesco Tring, Hertfordshire

0 - The displays in the bakery and fresh produce sections of this new Tesco looked attractive and although the required sizes of Cathedral City and the pack of Twix biscuits were not stocked, availability was generally high. Staff were friendly and efficient but the checkout operator did not offer to help pack our shopper's bags. We visited on 8 February at 1.25pm. Our shop lasted 43 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was three minutes.

waitrose Marylebone, London

1 - Our London shopper was impressed by the number of staff on the shopfloor at this well-lit outlet, saying they were polite and knowledgeable. All 14 tills were open, but the checkout area was cramped with nowhere to leave a trolley. The ice cream was sold out. We visited on 8 February at 6.35pm. Our shop lasted 40 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was two minutes and 30 seconds.