How was your store affected by the snow? The car park was absolutely covered but we cleared it and the access roads too. We lost a lot of trading over two or three days but regained it on Saturday and had three days of tremendous sales. We knew customers would come back to refill their larders and we’ve seen them stocking up in case there’s more snow to come. Comparable sales were up 13% on Saturday and my colleagues went above and beyond to deliver great service.
What support did you get from head office? We had problems last year with car parks and I think Asda has learned from that. We had gritters and snow ploughs throughout the night and phone calls of support throughout the day.
What products sold well? Hot cereals and cooking salt, which people used to melt the ice and snow on their drives, were up around 200%. We also sold huge quantities of fresh soup and lots of scarves, hats and knitwear.
How long have you worked at Asda? I joined the store in April and have only been with the company since last July. Before that I worked for Tesco for 19 years but I fancied a change and wanted to see another food retailer in operation.
What are the differences between the two? There are no fundamental differences. You’re here to serve customers and make sure everything is stocked. What I particularly like is the passion we have around price and the way we shout about it with the price guarantee. I think price means a lot to customers in the middle of a recession.
How do you compete with your nearest rivals? Eventing is one of the big things I challenge my team on so we get customers excited when they come into Asda. For the Toy Story 3 launch we dressed up the front of store with lots of balloons and bunting and colleagues dressed as Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Those special events are where we compete heavily against Tesco.
How do you encourage customer service? If you’re a store manager the first thing you must do is be a role model. One of the things I do is spend time on the checkout and talk to customers. It’s particularly important that the management team see me serving and replicate it with their teams.
What do you predict for Christmas? I think we’ll see a huge upturn in Extra Special, which will slow the migration to competitors seen as more expensive and better quality like M&S and Sainsbury’s. The voucher booklet has helped with some early Christmas sales.