Sainsburys Pontllanfraith Martin Bennett

Source: Steven Hawker Photography

Martin Bennett was talking to Lilith Foster-Collins

Store: Sainsbury’s Pontllanfraith
Store manager: Martin Bennett
Opened: 2009
Size: 29000 sq ft
Market share: 15.6%
Population: 127,612
Grocery spend: £3,199,665.12
Spend by household: £58.58
Competitors: 19

Nearest rivals: Aldi 0.7 miles, Asda 1.1 miles, Co-op 1.4 miles, Iceland 1.0 miles, Lidl 2.7 miles, M&S 6.7 miles, Morrisons 3.0 miles, Sainsbury’s 6.5 miles, Tesco 1.3 miles, Waitrose 8.5 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 has been your career trajectory at Sainsbury’s? I’ve been with Sainsbury’s 27 years, so I’m a bit of a lifer. I started when I was 16 and stayed through school and university, in lots of different roles. My first one was on trolleys – the traditional starting place in our industry. I spent lots of time in different leadership roles, later on in my career after finishing university. I really love working with people. Whether customers or colleagues, that’s what keeps me coming back every day and keep doing it. I’ve been in this store since March, and it’s great to come back to a store that I have been involved in previously.

What distinguishes your store? The store is in the middle of the Welsh valleys and it’s got a fantastic community feel to it, both from our colleagues and our customers. It’s such a fantastic community store. We’ve pretty much got every other competitor within a drive. It’s a valleys town, so we’re not on top of each other as it would be in a town centre, but we’ve pretty much got every competitor within a close drive. And customers will tell you if you’re not getting it right, and then vote with their feet ultimately.

What are your plans for the store as we move into the new year? Really it’s about maintaining standards. We know that the world has lots of challenges at the moment and our job is to give our customer base exactly what they want. We know that value is very important in people’s minds. We’ve got some fantastic initiatives along those lines: Sainsbury’s Quality, Aldi Price Match, Price Lock. We’ve got some fantastic special offers that we run, but also we know customers want to treat themselves, particularly when it comes to food. I think food is one of the affordable luxuries out there that people feel can really make a difference to their lives. And so our Taste the Difference range is a great example. We’re seeing more and more people shopping into that instead of going for a meal outside the home.

What are the key challenges for you as a business? We’ve got to work hard to retain our customers and attract new ones and it’s an exceptionally competitive market out there. That’s been the case for many, many years. I’ve been in Sainsbury’s for 27 years and we were probably having very similar conversations back then about how we do things. But competition has changed hugely over the course the last five to 10 years and even if you rewind 12 months, it’s more intense than ever. We are making sure that we’re the absolute best version of ourselves, certainly when it comes to our customer-facing activity.

How do you ensure you’re responsive to your customers in store? I think the pricing element is probably the most important one that customers will notice. And we actively feed back what our customers tell us and make sure that our ranges and our shop floors are as fit for purpose as they can be. Every single piece of customer feedback that we get, whether that’s digitally or face to face, we will actively feed that back to our buyers and our range planners to make sure that we’re hitting the mark for what people need. That’s not just about value, it’s also about the finer things in life where people want to treat themselves and making sure we match that really strongly.