Sarah Brown Sainsbury's Darnley

Source: Laura Harrison Photography

Winner: Sainsbury’s Darnley, Glasgow

Store manager: Sarah Brown

Size: 86,000 sq ft

Opened: 1992

Market share: 10.2%

Nearest rivals: Tesco – 1.7 miles, Waitrose – 2.1 miles, Morrisons – 2.8 miles, Asda – 3.6 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI.

Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

How has the recent refit gone down with customers? This store was the first Sainsbury’s in Scotland. It has had two major refits in its 29 years. The first was an extension about 15 years ago and the second, which took place last November, made us a real one-stop shop. Our GM and clothing areas are now integrated, we have a standalone health & beauty department, Argos Hub and café on the top floor, and concessions such as a Lindt pick ‘n’ mix stand and Sushi Gourmet counter. The new elements are very popular.

How do you anticipate the reopening of non-essential retailers will impact GM sales? I reckon it’ll be a slow-burning change because, judging by how people have acted each time restrictions have eased in the past, many will still be worried when lockdown initially lifts. Some people’s shopping habits have changed for good and they will be unlikely to go elsewhere to grab the clothing and home bits they need alongside their groceries, whereas others will get used to the social aspect that comes with visiting a shopping centre again in time.

The store got full marks for customer service. How do you reward great service? It’s important any employee who goes above and beyond for customers is recognised. Around 20 team members are rewarded with gift vouchers each week through our Love It scheme and we celebrate brilliant service spotted by team members through our ‘wow makers’ programme. Any fantastic customer comments left on Lettuce Know are celebrated too as we post about them on our internal social network.

How have you managed changing shopping patterns through the pandemic? The SmartShop app and handsets have become so popular. They have really helped minimise interactions with staff for customers who want to shop that way to help maintain social distancing. It really helps customers feel safe and makes some choose to shop with us over others. We’ve only had the technology here for just over a year but 20% of transactions are done using it now. The online side has increased tremendously too and we now run the biggest e-commerce operation in our region. We have a 16-van fleet, offer a click & collect service and have recruited 180 additional employees to our 500-strong team to help manage that growth. The majority of our team are local people, which means the store is a real pillar of the community.

Has the store been hit by the petfood shortage? Yes. Petfood has been the most significantly impacted category by shortages this year, especially for brands such as Whiskers and Felix. Customers have had to buy alternatives to what they usually get, but most have stuck to the brands they like the most. We get occasional pockets of poor availability. We had a shortage in canned tomatoes a few weeks ago, for instance, but our overall availability is stronger now than ever. I was worried about how much coronavirus and Brexit would affect stock, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far.