alex vale waitrose gillingham

Winner: Waitrose Gillingham, Dorset

Store manager: Alex Vale, department manager, retail

Opened: 1992

Size: 23,000 sq ft

Market share: 16.9%

Nearest rivals: Asda - 0.2 miles Lidl - 0.4 miles Tesco - 5.1 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI. Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

Our mystery shopper described your store as being well-organised, clean, and attractive. Is this something you focus on? We were fortunate enough to have a mini refit in January, giving a few areas around the edge of the store a bit of a facelift to rebalance the layout. The welcome desk was updated to offer dry cleaning and coffee machines; we’ve also got a new bakery area and our latest wine department concept.

Pick Your Own Offers seems to have been a massive hit - how have you promoted it? It’s a real focus for us at the moment. We have somebody at the front of the store for a few hours a day to engage with our customers to make sure everybody understands it and is able to take full advantage of it. As part of our service we offer them use of our computers at the welcome desk and do it with them.

What are your top sellers right now? Despite quite a miserable summer - strawberries, soft fruit, Prosecco and we’re still selling BBQ food.

How often do you visit your nearest rivals? Fairly regularly. We’re always keen to make sure our offer is better. We pride ourselves on our fresh produce, the way that’s represented at the front of the store and the variety we offer within that.

What do you do better than them? What we offer in Gillingham in terms of choice, freshness and quality far exceeds the competition in the town.

How important is training? We take staff training really seriously. We pride ourselves on delivering fantastic customer service, excellent stock management and the development of non-management partners.

How do you approach a member of staff you observe offering bad service? The nature of having partners means there’s a responsibility to offer great service. It’s not a huge issue we have… the partners have pride in the business and naturally offer good customer service.