Your store was hit by flooding last December. How did you cope? Yes, the whole store was under six foot of water. Everything inside the store was destroyed and we had to dispose of all the groceries, but we had the opportunity to salvage some clothing items and give them to charity. We have a petrol station on site so we turned that into a mini convenience market so customers could get virtually all the shopping they needed while the store was out of action, and set up a temporary pharmacy in the car park. We were back up and running in 17 days, which was a huge team effort. It was quite emotional because no one expected to get it open in such a short period of time so it was like a phoenix out of the fire!
Is having two discounters so close a headache for you? We have quite a lot of rivals in Cumbria. The nearby Lidl had an extension and Aldi just opened up the road 12 months ago, but as a store we haven’t felt the impact of that opening. We have positive like-for-like growth and double-digit volume growth. We’re seeing people come back because of the service we have.
And your online operation must be another factor that differentiates you. Yes we’ve got quite a big online operation that goes all the way up to the borders of Scotland. It’s gone from strength to strength over the past three years and demand is really growing. On a Saturday, we normally do around 4,500 items but this Saturday just gone we did 6,500 items.
We’re only three months away from Christmas. Is your store preparing already? We’ve already got some stuff on sale - mince pies went on sale last week - and our seasonal section is coming in now. The training period for Christmas food ordering has already happened and we went live on 30 September, so all our colleagues are geared up ready to greet customers. I’m going to the Sainsbury’s store managers’ Christmas roadshow tomorrow so that will bring alive what the plans are. We’re looking forward to this year’s Christmas as we didn’t have one last year because of the floods!
Winner: Sainsbury’s Church Street, Carlisle
Manager: Dave Morris
Size: 60,000 sq ft
Market share: 16.9%
Nearest rivals: Aldi - 0.3 miles Lidl - 0.4 miles Tesco - 0.5 miles Morrisons - 1.4 miles Asda - 1.6 miles
Store data source: Analysis by CACI. Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000