You’re around a week into a new role, how are you finding it? I’m loving the change - I was a deputy manager in training before this for around a year from the point Sainsbury’s announced its major restructure. This operations manager role came up and I took the chance to be promoted.
What changes has the store had in recent months? We had an Argos installed in November, which has gone down very well with customers and staff, and a Specsavers unit is coming next month. Our freezer units are also being refurbished, so Sainsbury’s is really investing in this store to make us a destination branch.
What’s your customer demographic like? It’s a huge variety of people from what I’ve seen so far, which means we need to provide a good range of stocks for their shopping missions. Some customers may want to pop in for one or two items, while others like to take their time shopping with us. We cater for all with something for everyone - if we and other retailers don’t focus on being innovative, we are at risk of losing customers.
How diverse are the store staff? The shop floor employees really make the store special - we’re such a massive mixture of people. All 270 colleagues are different ages and come from a variety of backgrounds. It’s great because, for example, more technology-savvy staff can help those struggling with our digital payroll system. We have a massive student population and plenty of long serving colleagues too - one employee who worked at Sainsbury’s for 26 years retired last week.
How have you managed the CO2 shortages? Luckily we’re starting to see stock levels increase again. I’d expect we’ll see our levels, and those at other Sainsbury’s branches, get back to normal over the next four to six weeks and we’re definitely back on track for that. The CO2 shortage has been especially tricky given the hot weather and demand for carbonated drinks, for example. The best thing with issues such as this is to be frank with customers and publicise the situation clearly to them.
What lines are selling well currently? Our back to school stationery and uniform lines are doing well, alongside barbecue equipment and items from our meat and fish counters. Customers are looking for something a bit different and our meat and fish lines from our counters are flying into baskets because of their adventurous flavours. TV cooking shows and social media have definitely had an impact on what customers are willing to try.
How do staff connect with customers? I saw colleagues and customers come together when we named our local charity of the year - Hannah’s Holiday Home, which arranges caravan holidays for terminally-ill children and their families. We raised £400 in two days with a tombola with donated items and collections. We’ll soon be installing a donation point in the staff canteen for staff to give items for the children when they go into hospital, such as craft items and toiletries.
Winner: Sainsbury’s Farlington
Operations manager: Lizzie Spacey
Size: 55,000 sq ft
Market share: 7.1%
Nearest rivals: Asda - 0.5 miles, Iceland - 0.5 miles, Waitrose - 0.7 miles, Tesco - 0.8 miles
Store data source: Analysis by CACI. Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000