Mark Slater Waitrose Aylesbury

Source: Laura McG Photography

Winner: Waitrose Aylesbury

Store manager: Mark Slater

Size: 21,000 sq ft

Opened: August 2003

Market share: 7.7%

Nearest stores: Sainsbury’s – 0.3 miles, Tesco – 0.3 miles, Morrisons – 0.4 miles, Asda – 1.2 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI.

Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

Last time we spoke you were looking after the High Wycombe branch. How has it been to return to Aylesbury full-time and what have you learned from the transition? I was there for a 12 to 13-week period supporting the High Wycombe branch while the other branch manager had some time off. I was twinning two shops at the same time, sort of spending 50% of my time in each shop and that finished at the end of July. It’s been brilliant just to come back and spend 100% of my time with my partners and my customers and my team here. But it’s been a useful opportunity to see how we could share ideas between the two shops, so it’s been quite a good stimulus and there’s been a lot of learning.

Covid restrictions have lifted since we last spoke. How is your team managing the changes? I’ve been really amazed as to the amount of partners and customers who are still really adhering to social distancing and also wearing masks. That’s been a great way that we can all still keep each other safe, when legally we don’t need to anymore.

Are the effects of the pingdemic stabilising now? It’s absolutely stabilised now. We were all affected by the pingdemic but nothing major here. My fantastic team were able to be really flexible and pulled together so that we could keep the operation moving and serving our customers as well as we do.

Our shopper noticed you helping put out stock. What’s your approach as a team leader during this supply chain crisis? As a business we’re working through all of the same challenges other supermarkets are facing now. My stance on it as a branch manager is around just focusing on maintaining the best possible range of products and to really wow our customers with amazing high levels of service. It’s about leading from the front in the branch.

How is this all affecting your planning for the busy back to school period? We’ve just started – it’s just about planning for our resources and being ready for when the stock starts to arrive. My team have been absolutely amazing, really resilient and also really flexible and that flexibility of the workforce has been key. So that’s something that I would always want to try and encourage, praise and take with me in the future.

Are there any new and exciting lines or ranges in-store for autumn? We’ve just had some amazing new wines that we are showcasing in our current seasonal run.  We’ve got a lot of the autumn offers as well, which have been really popular with our customers. We’ve certainly seen the meat counter has really grown in popularity at the moment and it was certainly really busy over the bank holiday weekend, which was great to see.

Your branch just had its eighth anniversary. How did the team celebrate? We didn’t celebrate in August. We were a bit nervous with the social distancing, etc. So we’ve got something planned for later in the year for it.