A lot has been made about the Asda price guarantee. Are you worried about how your store might be affected? Not really, as we have got our own different promotions, such as ‘Value Where it Matters’. We are also selling a lot of products for just £1. Our new Five Meals for £20 promotion has been really popular too.
How has trade been recently? We had a really good Christmas and we grew by about 7%, which is awesome. January is always a bit more of a difficult month and I would say customers are being a bit more savvy. There are fewer items going through the till but, that said, we are still seeing strong numbers.
Are there any particular lines that have been selling well? It sounds like a strange thing to say, but hot cross buns have been flying out the door since we started selling them in mid-January. Customers just seem to love them and I have challenged our in-store bakery to try and sell as many as possible. We are going to continue to sell them right up until Easter.
How do you ensure you compete with your rivals and what, in your view, do you do better than them? We have had competition from our rivals recently in that a couple of them have had refits, although we have worked hard to ensure this hasn’t negatively affected us. I visit our rivals once a month. My departmental managers do the same, and we have weekly meetings about what they are doing and how we can do better than them. You scored very well on customer service but less well on availability.
How do you explain that? Friday evenings are always busy and given it was the last Friday of the month just after payday, it was particularly busy, and was always going to be a challenge. I think the fact we scored so well on customer service is testament to the hard work of my colleagues in store.
How do you encourage good customer service? I oversee the Sainsbury’s mystery shopping programme for this region and, as such, I have a very good sense of what customers are looking for in store. At induction level I always talk to colleagues about what a good store looks like and how they should approach customers.
What is the most difficult thing about your job? I think it has to be that, despite the challenges of the job, you always have to appear balanced in front of the colleagues that you work with – so that they have someone they can look up to and respect.