Winner: Sainsbury’s Barnwood, Gloucester

Store manager: Samuel Pain

Opened: 1998

Size: 47,000 sq ft

Market share: 7.5%

Nearest rivals: Morrisons – 2.0 miles, Asda – 2.5 miles, Tesco – 2.7 miles, Waitrose – 7.4 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI

How long have you been at Sainsbury’s? I’ve been here for 13 years. The majority of my career has been spent in our convenience stores. I joined our supermarket estate in 2017 and have been in this store since November 2019.

And straight away you had to deal with the pandemic. What was that like? Colleagues in retail are used to a fast pace, but I’m really proud of the team. The ever-changing circumstances have been the real challenge, but the team have been adaptable and safety focused.

Your branch was described as having a “friendly feel” with good availability. What’s the secret to keeping customers coming back? The level of fill across the store is certainly improving. It’s been a challenge for all stores, but my team has stayed really focused on driving availability for customers so when they come in they can get the products they need. We have significantly grown our online business to ensure we could be the hub of the community for the pandemic, but that said, we also increased footfall through a real focus on availability, standards and service.

The plant and flower display at the entrance was one of our shopper’s highlights. Do you have any other displays at the moment? The front of store we’re very passionate about. It’s the first impression for our customers, so it’s important we keep that clear and I’m glad the mystery shopper recognised that. We’ve been very focused on the football – we’ve got an exciting new summer range, both food and non-food, which the colleagues and customers have really been enjoying.

Sainsbury’s Great Big Fruit & Veg Challenge was available last month. How was that welcomed by customers? It’s good fun, they had an opportunity to have a bit of fun with the challenge and it’s been successful. It also fell quite nicely with the  Helping Everyone Eat Better scheme, which has been all about showcasing how great-value food can be healthy and sustainable whilst encouraging people to try new things. We’ve got a great relationship with our customers, so a lot of them come in and talk to us about all things Nectar. I think we’re very lucky because Nectar allows us to engage with our customers and offer personalised products to suit their needs.

Have things changed at the branch as Covid restrictions started to ease? The coffee bar reopened last week, which has been well received by everyone. It’s been a really positive start – customers and colleagues have both been pleased it’s back open again as it’d been shut for a number of months. I think customers and colleagues are both enjoying the prospect of life getting back to some sort of normality now.

Sainsbury’s announced it is expanding the flexible plastic recycling system across the country. Is this something you’re going to implement soon? I’m waiting for communication from head office on that, but it is very important to us and definitely something we’ll be working on