Competition was tough this week with two retailers boasting strong availability. However Tesco’s new green store in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, netted our top store award thanks to a polite checkout assistant and a shorter queue than at nearest rival Sainsbury's.
Our shopper described the recently opened store, which boasted a large selection of ethnic products, as “quite an experience” . Products were easy to find in the immaculately presented store, he said, and the staff were helpful.
Sainsbury's in Aberdeen also provided a full trolley, but the toiletries were difficult to locate. There were plenty of staff around the store and the checkout assistant was “very friendly and chatty”. One out-of-stock item let Waitrose in Sudbury down, but the store was tidy and the staff were helpful – one even asked our shopper if she needed any help because she looked lost.
Morrisons also had one out-of-stock item and some of its frozen lines were untidily presented. Fresh chicken breasts had a short sell-by date – the following day. The queues were short, however, and the checkout assistant greeted our shopper.
Availability disappointed at Asda in Wigan – there were lots of signs reading “temporarily out of stock” around the wine, fresh, canned and freezer aisles. The staff were helpful, however, and the checkout assistant offered to pack.
Winner: Simon Renwick, store manager, Tesco, Cheetham Hill
How is your green store different to other Tesco branches? We only opened in January. The concept is unique to Tesco and the store was built after several trials at branches around the country. Refrigeration systems include chillers that use less energy because the glass doors store cool air. The store is made of sustainable timber and the roof has shafts that let natural light in. There are also pipes with convex mirrors that beam natural light to darker areas of the store and we have natural ventilation - funnels on the roof draw in cold air and circulate it. The overall concept saves 70% on carbon dioxide emissions.
Tell us about your large world foods offer. We stock a wide range including halal food, Polish, Asian and Jewish lines. They are being received so well because Cheetham Hill is the most densely populated ethnic area in the north west with 42 ethnic groups. We have worked hard to make sure we stock the right stuff to meet customer needs. We have had some great deals such as half-price 20kg basmati rice bags selling for £14 - we sold £15,000-worth in one day.
Why is your non-food offer so large for a superstore? Our non-food accounts for 40% of space and we have the same stock level as an Extra would have. This is because when we were making plans for the store, we realised our competitors' non-food offer was not so strong and customers were having to travel into the city centre. It has gone down brilliantly so far.
How's your store's stock reduction programme going? We have been doing it for almost two months since we opened, and have done really well. We have saved 35% on grocery stockholding and 50% on non-food. It's a matter of getting stock out on to the floor and working with the system to make sure we don't run out of certain items.
What are your everyday management challenges? Being able to meet all the needs of the community in and around the store. It can be challenging to make sure we have the right balance and blend, but I think that we are doing well and we listen to what our customers want.