You’ve been manager of the store for just two months. What improvements have you made since you arrived? The team has worked really hard on maintaining availability, especially towards the end of the day. Before I arrived we weren’t sticking to the company way of doing things but now we follow the processes and routines rigidly, and it’s really made a difference. Shortly after I arrived I visited the nearby Morrisons and it had very fresh produce and great availability. I left the store thinking if we can get our availability like that then we stand a good chance of taking some of their business!
Our mystery shopper spent no time queuing. Is that also something you have worked on? Yes, so I am really pleased to hear that. We have much better organisation at the tills now. It was all that was needed, there was no need for extra staff or extra hours, just better scheduling. And it has made a significant difference to queuing times. We didn’t need to work on our customer service – this team is so friendly that it comes totally naturally to them. And they were fantastic at helping me settle in when I first arrived.
And what would you change about the store itself? We actually have our 10-year refresh coming up, and that will address a lot of issues. For example, we have old-style freezers that do not always function perfectly, and they don’t hold as much stock as the ones in our newer stores. And we work very hard to keep the store clean and tidy, so I am looking forward to the refresh making everything look better.
There has been a lot in the press over the past couple of months about the ongoing price war between Tesco and Asda. How does that filter down to the shop floor? The price cuts that Tesco has made seem to be performing well in-store. We have definitely seen an uplift in some of the featured lines just from doing our regular checks on availability. But Asda’s 10% promo didn’t seem to have any effect. As for refund vouchers, we have seen a handful of Asda’s and a handful of Tesco vouchers, so nothing major. I think the biggest one we had was a refund for about £10. Fresh produce is also in the news after considerable retail price inflation.
Have you seen any reduction in sales? No, not at all. Our fruit and veg lines are selling normally and there is certainly no sign they are in decline in this store. And we recently installed a new help yourself deli-style counter, which has delivered an 80% rise in olives and other antipasti-style foods.