Steven Woodhead Morrisons Bathgate

Source: ItsPhotographic Studio

Winner: Morrisons Bathgate

Store manager: Steven Woodhead

Size: 33,500 sq ft

Opened: 2011

Market share: 12.7%

Nearest stores: Lidl – 1 mile, Tesco – 1.5 miles, Aldi – 2 miles, Asda – 4.0 miles, Sainsbury’s – 6.5 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI.

Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

Tell us a bit about your career progression with Morrisons. I joined Morrisons in 2008 and for the last five years I’ve been a manager at the Garden Store in Edinburgh. I joined the Bathgate store here in February of this year.

How was it to transition from one store to another in the midst of the pandemic? One of the biggest things when I arrived that was very evident was how much of a community feel this store had. It seemed every colleague knew every customer, which was fantastic. The hardest part is you’re still going really fast and you’ve still got the social distancing. Wearing the mask is one of those barriers – you need to use a lot more body language when you’re talking to colleagues for the first time, and because you’re not seeing a lot of facial expressions you find you need to communicate harder to make sure everyone can understand you.

What is happening in terms of customer behaviour now the restrictions are lifted? I don’t think overall people will change too many habits. People have gotten really used to wearing the mask. It’s important we continue to make sure our customers and our staff feel safe on a daily basis. Although social distancing is being removed, people are still very aware of their surroundings and aware of each other. I think that will continue. 

How have you managed to keep supply going amidst the current driver shortage? One of the big things, for this store, has been the fact that the supply chain and logistics teams have done a fantastic job. They’re spinning lots of plates and they really have given us the best service that they possibly can, and we can see that in the store availability and we can see it in our customers. My heart goes out to those teams for keeping us going.

Has your branch been impacted by the ‘pingdemic’? Not at this point – we’ve been quite lucky. We’re making sure that we’ve got the right plan in place for when things do happen. The team knows what needs to happen and we’ve been looking at multi-skilling across the store so we can quickly move people around to make sure service and availability aren’t impacted.

How have people’s online delivery habits shifted? We’re still seeing growth in both main store and online. People have gotten used to online, so it’s not just about the pandemic – it’s about convenience and them being happy with using those new channels of shopping. At the same time, there are still plenty of people looking to get in store and have that experience.

What is the best part about your job as a store manager? The variety of challenges and the variety of things we’re trying to achieve on a daily basis, by making sure we’re looking after the customer and making sure there’s enough availability, and making the right choices around those two key elements. I think that’s why we do the job – because it is enjoyable.