Lisa Portsmouth Aldi Hednesford

Source: Aldi

Winner: Aldi Hednesford

Store manager: Lisa Portsmouth  

Opened: August 2013      

Size: 10,000 sq ft

Market share: 4.6%

Nearest rivals: Tesco – 0.3 miles, Morrisons – 2.4 miles, Asda – 2.8 miles, Sainsbury’s – 3.1 miles, Waitrose – 3.5 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI.

Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

Tell us a bit about your career to date? I’ve been with Aldi for 25 years. I started as store assistant and worked my way to manager by 2013. I moved to this store when it opened the same year.

What do you find most rewarding about your role? My colleagues. Hednesford is a really happy and friendly store and we are also a training store. I really do enjoy seeing my team progress and move on.

What has the pandemic changed about your job? The last year has made me focus on my team more than ever. It has been extremely challenging for everyone, and I am incredibly proud of how my team have gone over and beyond for our customers. The initial panic buying was challenging and we all had to pull together. But that was pretty brief and we settled down very quickly, and things have run smoothly since then.

How much of a challenge has social distancing been? Early on, customers found it hard to adjust to social distancing and wanted to come and take product from our hands to make sure they got what they were after. But that passed quickly. Masks have been very useful and have done a great job, but customers can’t see that you’re smiling behind them and it sometimes makes it hard to hear what customers are saying. I will definitely be glad to get back to normal.

Our mystery shopper said staff were helpful, friendly and efficient. How do you keep staff motivated and engaged? Keeping an open-door policy with all my colleagues really helps. I try to make sure all our rotas are very fair and balanced, so nobody is doing too many late or weekend shifts unless they want to.

How do you keep shelves so well stocked? We have various computer programmes in place for ordering but there’s the human touch as well. We spend a long time investigating issues.

Have you noticed an increase in crime as per the BRC report? We had two issues with shoplifters in the past year, plus one with someone who got aggressive because they didn’t want to wear a mask. It’s a nice area here and customers are generally respectful.

Aldi is back to business as usual in terms of growth. How have things changed as lockdown restrictions ease? We have been quite consistent in our sales. Some people are now coming into store maybe twice a week when they had been coming in only once. Basket sizes have started to go back to normal and our sales have definitely increased. Food to go has increased recently, as have sandwich fillings and picnic ingredients. Sales of barbecue food have risen too, especially ahead of this weekend.

Aldi said a few weeks ago some Specialbuys had been delayed by the Suez Canal blockage. Did that affect you? We have not had any real problems. Customers understand when we let them know why the products aren’t in store – they’re usually relieved they haven’t been in stock and then sold out. A few people come in for a particular product, but most people come in for their weekly shop then end up mooching around the middle aisles.