Debbie Henton Morrisons Birtley

Source: Richardsons Photographers

Debbie Henton was talking to Lilith Foster-Collins

Store: Morrisons Birtley
Store manager: Debbie Henton
Opened: 2012
Size: 28,500 sq ft
Market share: n/a
Population: 286,353
Grocery spend: £6.9m
Spend by household: £54.58
Competitors: 45
Nearest rivals: Aldi 1.5 miles, Asda 1.8 miles, Co-op 1.8 miles, Iceland 1.8 miles, Lidl 2.2 miles, M&S 1.8 miles, Morrisons 2.0 miles, Sainsbury’s 1.8 miles, Tesco 2.5 miles, Waitrose 5.7 miles

Source: CACI. For more info visit Notes: Shopper profiling is measured using Grocery Acorn shopper segmentation. Store catchment data (market share, population, expenditure, spend by household, competition) is within a five-mile radius.
For CACI’s shopper segmentation of the other stores we visited this week see the online report at

What’s your career at Morrisons looked like? I’ve been with Morrisons now for 26 years. I’ve had lots of roles and in the last two years I became a store manager, joining Birtley just four weeks ago. It’s been absolutely brilliant, the team have really taken me on board.

What are the key challenges in managing a new store? It’s about getting buy-in from all the team, and getting the team behind our mission, which they have definitely done, being there [on the shop floor] and working with them. Talking to the staff and getting them to want to work hard, which they do. And it’s important to set targets.

Where were you before Birtley? I was in a Northumberland branch before. I’m actually still covering it. That store has been open for only three years and I’ve been managing it for a year-and-a-half. It’s a very seasonal store, so it’s not just about the locals, it’s also about catering to people visiting in the summer, so it’s busier at the moment.

What’s your key focus at Birtley and is it working? As a region at the moment we’re really trying to drive price lock lines and Savers lines. Whether it’s pasta sauce or jam, shoppers are definitely picking these items up more now than ever. Shoppers are shopping around more than ever, so it’s important they can come to our store and get a variety of items at different prices.

What’s new in store? The Morrisons More card was relaunched at the start of the summer, and we’ve got lots of More card exclusive offers, which is helping drive footfall.

How have the changes gone down with customers? They really like it. They’re liking the app, and the fact that they can get points and £5 vouchers.

What stands out about the store? It’s a community-based store. Birtley is an old mining community, just south of Newcastle, and we do a lot of charity work. We host a monthly craft fair at the bottom of the store and that money goes to the local St Oswald’s Hospice. We have local businesses who come in and run the stalls. All the staff are really friendly here and it makes a big difference. We also have pick-up packs in store that go to the local food bank hubs. We have really good uptake on this, and people are very generous.

What’s been your favourite moment since you joined the store – apart from winning store of the week? It’s definitely the craft fair. We’ve seen quite a lot of money donated. It was great being a part of it and seeing how well it worked.

How are you combating shoplifting in your store? We are definitely seeing an increase, and we are very aware of this in store. We’re finding we are having to move things so they are in areas of the store where we have cameras and a constant staff presence. The products we are seeing being shoplifted are things like Jack Daniel’s, Smirnoff – high-value items that are easy to sell on.

The checkout service was excellent. How do you manage this? We really engage with the team. We do one-on-ones with them all the time, and we listen to what they want and make sure everything is planned. It’s important to have staff on the floor spotting queues.

Do you have a favourite line? The Market Street The Best scones, which I like with clotted cream and The Best jam.