Eclipse Wedding Photography (1)

Source: Eclipse Wedding Photography

Roly Smith spoke to Lilith Foster-Collins

Store: Tesco Exmouth
Manager: Roly Smith
Opened: 1992
Size: 30,254 sq ft
Market share: 35.59%
Population: 65,328
Grocery spend: £1,844,997.96
Spend by household: £63.84
Competitors: 14
Nearest rivals: Aldi 6.2 miles, Asda 12.1 miles, Co-op 0.3 miles, Iceland 1.3 miles, Lidl 0.2 miles, M&S 1.4 miles, Morrisons 9.0 miles, Sainsbury’s 3.8 miles, Tesco 0.7 miles, Waitrose 8.0 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

How has the year been going for you? From an operational point of view, the shop’s in a pretty good place. I’m not young any longer, but I hold myself to quite high standards. I’m probably my own worst critic.

Can you tell me a bit about the area? I live in Somerset but I’ve always worked in Devon. I think the expectation from customers is greater in the south west – that’s partly down to the older demographic. Dealing with that is about talking to customers. The company has its own feedback mechanisms that we link into as store managers. But also fundamentally, it’s about talking to customers who are out on the shop floor.

What kind of expectations do shoppers have? We are the biggest supermarket in the Exmouth area. There’s not a lot a competition down here. And people have got used to a particular expectation in the shop. When it’s not right, customers will tell you quickly that it’s not right, particularly when you move something in the shop. That’s always quite an emotive issue in Exmouth – perhaps more so than in any other shop I’ve been in.

How do you deal with negative customer interactions? Me personally, I can probably count on one hand the number of interactions I’ve had with customers that I haven’t been able to turn into a positive. It’s about understanding the frustration of the customer. Most interactions end with the customer understanding that this is the reason we’ve made changes and that we are around to help if they need anything.

What is distinctive about your store? What makes us different is the service in our store. A lot of the feedback we get is that people don’t come for the products, they come for the service they receive.

What difficulties can working in the south west have? There can be some additional challenges from the weather when it gets particularly bad – for example, the flooding at the moment is becoming quite challenging. And then there is the distance from the depot – we’re serviced by the depots around the Bristol area. So road network issues can add additional challenges. Four or five years ago we had a lot of snow and that meant we couldn’t always get the stock through.

What challenges are you envisioning for Christmas? Christmas is a full week this year, as Christmas Day falls on the Monday. That week in particular will be very challenging. We’ll be introducing around 15 new colleagues. That means training 15 new colleagues, and most importantly, making them feel welcome. It’s always quite challenging. I spent some time yesterday with a younger lady who is 17 years old and it’s her first job. We were all young once, so it’s important to me to make sure they all feel welcome in the store.

How do you make the new colleagues feel at home? I really believe there’s no hierarchy in the store. There are people with more responsibility, and that’s the way I see my role, as having more responsibility. It’s going to sound clichéd, but it’s about making people see the difference that they make when they come to work. Whether it’s a colleague who works six hours or a colleague who works 36 hours, it’s all about the difference they make, being part of the team, and having a bit of fun.