raymond lear tesco caernarfon

Source: Iolo Penri Photography

Winner: Tesco, Caernarfon, Wales

Store manager: Raymond Lear

Opened: 1997

Size: 28,000 sq ft

Market share: 23.7%

Nearest rivals: Iceland - 0.8 miles
, Asda - 1 mile

Store data source: Analysis by CACI. Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

How are staff coping with the unprecedented surge in demand and how do you keep them motivated? For me, the shop is an absolute extension of the local community. To hear about the service score is really pleasing. But, if I’m honest, that is just what they do and how they are. What pleases me is that we got such high marks when this shop was carried out on the Friday when we were facing real pressures. It is a reflection of our whole team.

Being a community store, what plans do you have in place to look after the elderly and the vulnerable? We do have a number of organisations that have contacted us to help with that, and our community champions do a really great job of linking into places. We are doing the best we can to support people. The message I’m delivering is that we need to do the right thing by our colleagues and customers to try and help and support people as much as we can.

Availability was hit hard this week as customers intensified stockpiling. How are stocks looking and how are the new measures to restrict buying helping? It is quite stark at the moment as there have been a number of product groups that have been severely impacted. It is a strange feeling walking around the shop. You tend to have a great sense of pride around store standards, but it is difficult to see so many empty shelves. We are clear on what we need to do in terms of getting stock out as quickly as we can. We are turning out more volume than ever before, but it is easier in one sense as we are not holding any stock in the back. Deliveries come in and go straight out.

Are you worried about how staff sickness will affect the store as the number of coronavirus cases continue to grow? We are also trying to get on the front foot with absence and forecast what that looks like and make sure we have contingency plans in place to get through those spikes. We are fortunate in Caernarfon because we are a seasonal store - one of the top seasonal stores in the company - so we have a large proportion of people that we flex up through key seasonal periods. We typically almost double our trade throughout the summer, so we are used to flicking the switch on staff numbers when needed. We are looking at those resources to be able to cope with any staff absence. How we manage the pressure on the team in store as people go off is front of my mind and I’m conscious of doing everything we can to alleviate that and support our colleagues.

How are you coping personally with managing all this? It is surreal if I’m honest. It almost doesn’t seem real walking into the store and seeing how empty the shelves are. But I believe we have to do what is right. The communication and support from the business has been really helpful. We have the opportunities to feed stuff back on a twice daily basis. And we are getting regular contact with the leadership team in terms of plans and how things are moving. I think there is a real appreciation that this is a very fast-moving situation. We are all in it together and we have to do the best that we can. And I see that echoed not just from my team but also from the customers now.

Are customers treating staff respectfully? I’ve very much noticed a shift in the social conscience of people. Initially, shoppers were bulk buying and stockpiling. And now there has been a definite shift towards the vulnerable and elderly in the community, and how we cater to those people. We are getting a lot of customers asking how they can support and what they can do to help.