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‘This time of year we always see British soft fruit absolutely booming’

Store: Waitrose Allington Park
Store manager: Jeremy Barnard
Opened: 1970
Size: 13,276 sq ft
Market share: 3.14%
Population: 236,807
Grocery spend: £6,432,920.14
Spend by household: £66.71
Competitors: 44
Nearest rivals: Aldi 1.0 miles, , Asda 1.2 miles, Co-op 1.9 miles, Iceland 0.8 miles, Lidl 1.3 miles, M&S 0.2 miles, Morrisons 2.6 miles, Sainsbury’s 1.2 miles, Tesco 0.3 miles, Waitrose 4.2 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 long have you been at Waitrose? I’ve worked at the partnership for 19 years and have had the privilege of being a store manager for the past eight years. I really enjoy leading successful teams. But the main reason I’ve stayed at Waitrose so long is that I value the co-owned business. It allows myself and the partners I work with to bring their best to work.

Can you tell me a bit about the store? My current team is amazing to work with. There is such a close-knit family feel to the branch. Many of the partners have been here for 20 years and they all really look out for each other.

What about your customers? The branch has been here for 53 years, so we have a lot of loyal customers. The first customer who cut the ribbon to open the store all those years ago still comes shopping most mornings. We get to have a chat with him. He was second in the queue for the 50th anniversary. We also have many young families who are moving into new housing developments nearby.

Are there any other customers who stand out to you? A lovely guy who really enjoys Waitrose food comes in every morning. He’s always asking me: “Jeremy, what’s that? What’s new? What can I try? What do you recommend?” It’s wonderful to spend 10 minutes most mornings with him, having that conversation and walking around the store. We have another customer where a partner will do her shopping and then we pop it round to her. We’ve been doing that since Covid and we haven’t stopped.

What’s the area like? The store is in the Mid Kent Shopping Centre, which is on the outskirts of Maidstone, a busy town. The area is seeing consistent development, and it has just been growing and growing. We’ve got lots of local primary schools, with one opposite the branch. There are also lots of independent traders around – we have 10 in the shopping centre itself. There’s a really close-knit community of entrepreneurs. Arlington itself is an extremely picturesque area. Arlington Castle is a five-minute walk away and Allington Lock is a 15-minute walk away along the River Medway.

Our shopper had to wait six to seven minutes to be served at the checkout. Why might it have taken so long? We try to respond as quickly as we can. We have headsets that enable any partner to call for support. Shoppers never shop in quite the same pattern every day, so we need to respond quickly and generally that’s what we do. If we have all our tills open, sometimes that’s all we can do. We are very much listening to our customers, and in a couple of weeks we are introducing self-service checkouts to help improve the speed of their shopping trips.

How have the IT issues at Waitrose been affecting you? I can only speak about my branch, but we’ve been running as normal – standard delivery schedule and levels have been really good over recent weeks.

What products are selling well in the summer heat? This time of year we always see British soft fruit absolutely booming. Everyone is looking for that, and the suppliers and growers have done really well. We’re seeing a lot of fresh fish and the fresh fish counter absolutely makes a difference.