andrew webb tesco lewes

Source: Willie Robb

Store: Tesco Lewes

Store manager: Andrew Webb

Open: 1991

Size: 30,000 sq ft

Market share: 38.6%

Nearest rivals: Aldi - 0.1 miles, Waitrose - 0.4 miles, Sainsbury’s - 7.9 miles, Asda - 8.5 miles, Co-op - 10.4 miles

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

How long have you been store manager? I’ve been here for seven years and in retail for 30 years in total.

Have you fully recovered from the height of the panic-buying? We bounced back quickly as a result of the team in the store being great and the processes in Tesco - such as the robust stock routines - helping us get it back on track as quickly as possible. The leadership did a great job of helping us deliver in stores.

Have shopping patterns changed as customers get used to the new situation? I’m not seeing customers coming in straight from the competition in the same way they would have before, which suggests shoppers are coming out for essentials and making as few trips as possible. The size of the trolley is bigger, but not because of stockpiling.

Tesco had a full basket this week. Has availability returned to normal? Availability is very good. There is still the odd line missing, but it feels like a full shop again. And that is through staff in store following the correct stock control routines and a great night team filling up the shelves every night. Distribution has also done a great job of delivering stock, as well as the purchasing teams.

Has the range altered noticeably to cater to demand? The decisions are made further up the chain. If you were a customer, you probably wouldn’t notice the rather subtle changes taking place. Changes in the manufacturing process to simplify ranges [making fewer varieties of pasta, for example] has helped us fill shelves efficiently.

How have customers reacted to the easing of buying restrictions? It has been very sensibly received, and I haven’t seen any return to bulk purchasing at all. A few customers have asked whether it is now OK to buy four or five of one product because of a particular need, whether for health or dietary reasons. It feels like there is now a confidence that customers can come in at any point and buy whatever they want without having the fear a product might not be available the next time they visit - which was the situation just a few weeks ago. Everything has become smoother and queues outside are reduced as shoppers know they don’t have to get here early to get what they want. Since we came out of Easter, we haven’t seen the big queues early in the day. The trade pattern is now smoother each day.

How was Easter this year and what were the most popular Tesco products? It was an Easter none of us have experienced before, primarily because a lot of gifting - such as Easter eggs - didn’t happen this year as customers weren’t able to visit families or loved ones in the same way as in previous years. There was still an attempt at normalcy where possible, with family groups living together still celebrating Easter as normal with gifts and roast dinners.

Our shopper said it was calm in store and one of the nicest shops they had ever had. How have you achieved this? The number of customers in the shop is pretty much constant and as a result it doesn’t matter if it is a Monday or Tuesday morning or weekend. The thing that might differ is the social distancing outside in the queue. What we try and do in Lewes is to control, in a polite and dignified way, the flow of people around the shop. My social distancing team keep a close eye on the first two aisles, which is fresh produce flowing into the bread and cake section. As soon as it starts to have any danger of becoming congested, the team on the door will control the flow, even if the number of customers in the shop is below the safe capacity we are operating under at the moment. If you don’t do that there is the danger of having all customers congested in just a few aisles, making it an uncomfortable experience.

What is your role in feeding the vulnerable in the community? We have a great relationship with the local food banks and council. Corporately we do collections for FareShare and locally we collect for food banks. And that isn’t just the collection point at front of store, which gets collected three times a week and is always overflowing. This weekend the local food banks have volunteers outside store letting customers in the queue know what products there is a need for. Shoppers can drop off items when they leave the store.

Standards and staff received high marks. How have the new staff fitted into the team? It is great to hear. We work hard to ensure we have great service training for colleagues. My experienced team have all been great, but we have also taken on a lot of new staff who have either been furloughed elsewhere or who were seeking jobs. They have been, without exception, great people. It would be fantastic if we were able to keep some at the end of all of this.