Graham Barnes Tesco Northampton

Source: Pixelero Digital Events Photography

Winner: Tesco Northampton

Store manager: Graham Barnes

Size: 70,000 sq ft

Opened: 1986

Market share: 14.3%

Nearest stores: Asda – 1.6 miles, Waitrose – 1.8 miles, Morrisons – 2.4 miles, Sainsbury’s – 3.1 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI.

Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

Has online trade started to tail off now Covid case numbers are falling? Our online trade has virtually doubled since the pandemic started. A lot of online customers have stayed with us – they’ve seen the benefits. We have seen a small shift back to the shop floor and a small shift to smaller and more frequent shopping trips as well, but we haven’t seen a big shift yet. A lot of people enjoy the convenience of online.

What had the biggest impact on sales, the heatwave or the Euros? We’ve pretty much had two weeks of non-stop good weather which followed on from the Euros. If anything, the weather had the bigger impact. We’ve seen a big boost to fresh food, barbecues, impulse and drinks – they’re all trading incredibly strongly at the moment.

Have you been hit by supply shortages? The pingdemic has had a big impact in the supply chain, which has been particularly choppy. Our DCs have been holding up brilliantly but it has led to pockets of the shop that aren’t quite where we would want them to be. But the team has been first class. The pandemic has taught us how to be incredibly resourceful and I think it’s helping us now to cope with this.

What products have been most affected? Drinks have been badly hit, water in particular. The rest of it is sporadic.

Have staff absence rates at the store been hit by the pingdemic? We’ve had absence rates of between 4% to 5 %, so not massive, but it’s not been easy and we’re going into the peak holiday season that can add a bit of an impact. One of the things we have done is ensure we have been aggressive on recruitment. We’ve probably taken on about 30 people in the past few weeks. It’s not like in the first lockdown when there was such a big pool of people to choose from – the pool has shrunk. But we’ve kept it rolling.

Have you had any confrontations with customers or staff over masks? In line with the latest government guidance, our advice has changed so we now strongly recommend people wear a mask. What is really interesting is we’ve not seen any problems, which we did have when masks first came in and caused quite a lot of tension. In general people have been respectful of each other’s decisions, and I think part of that has been because we have kept social distancing and continue to set limits on number of customers in the store.

What proportion of staff are choosing to still wear masks? The split is about 75% of people choosing to wear a mask and 25% not. I am still wearing one. But we have made it clear it is about individual choice – we’re not telling staff what they have to do.

You run a big Extra store. Have you had any changes to layout recently? We’ve had some rebalancing in non-food with an increase in the space for clothing. We’ve had very strong clothing sales throughout the pandemic and that’s continued. The range is really hitting the mark.