Waitrose Bury St Edmunds July 3rd 2024 (11)

Stephen Mattinson was talking to Stephen Jones

Duty manager: Stephen Mattinson
Store: Waitrose Bury St Edmunds
Opened: 1993
Size: 21,014 sq ft
Market share: 12.5%
Population: 58,629
Grocery spend: £1,623,722.78
Spend by household: £64.24
Competitors: 14
Nearest rivals: Aldi 0.8 miles, Asda 0.9 miles, Co-op 0.4 miles, Iceland 0.2 miles, Lidl 11.1 miles, M&S 0.3 miles, Morrisons 17 miles, Sainsbury’s 1.2 miles, Tesco 0.1 miles, Waitrose 12.7 miles

Source: CACI. For more info visit www.caci.co.uk/contact. 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 www.thegrocer.co.uk/stores/the-grocer-33

Tell us about your career in retail: I joined the Tesco graduate scheme 30 years ago, and worked there for nine years. I then joined the Waitrose management scheme. I’ve been here 22 years now, and worked in 13 different Waitrose supermarkets.

Bury St Edmunds seems like a ‘typical’ town for a Waitrose? It’s a nice place to live. It’s a lot cheaper to live here compared to somewhere like Cambridge, so there are lots of houses being built and it’s growing at a rapid rate. In recent years we’ve definitely become a lot more inclusive as a business since we’ve had Sharon White as chairman, and we attract lots of people from different backgrounds. Ultimately, they’re all food lovers. One thing that has made a difference to our footfall recently is that the Debenhams closed and has been replaced by a Primark.

Primark and Waitrose don’t seem like natural bedfellows? It’s a large site, and our store is right next door. Some shoppers use our car park, so will pop into us after they’ve visited Primark. I’ve definitely noticed an increase – our transaction count is probably double the region and is growing at a decent rate. It’s bringing more people into town.

What has been the biggest driver of Waitrose’s improved recent performance? We’ve had some new directors with a grocery background, who have made a big difference. We had to go through a period of change, but as a consequence we’ve come out more productive. The clear message from the centre has been to ensure that we offer the best service possible.

What has been the impact of the Simpler Shops programme in the store? We’ve learned how to become a bit more efficient, which is what Waitrose needed, to be honest. We now replenish at the most efficient time, which has freed up resources to invest in customer service – we’ve definitely seen an increase in our customer service scores over the past year. We’ve also got a new stock management system, which has improved availability offered to customers.

Have there been any other recent changes in store? We had a refit two years ago. The main thing was to create a better flow for customers – for example, fresh foods used to be in different areas, but now it’s grouped together. We added a new deli, sushi counter and café, as well as modernised our meat and fish counters. It’s brought in new customers and really emphasises our point of difference in counters and hospitality. This year we’re operating with about 7% more customers than the year before, and sales have doubled in our café.

What have been some of the popular summer lines? The Ottolenghi range has gone down really well, as has our new extensive summer range. Our dry aged beef counter has also proven a real winner. We’ve got a really good new offer on outdoor plants too, which gives MyWaitrose loyalty card holders 20% off outdoor plants. It’s been an area of growth for us.

Have you had a noticeable bounce on England matchdays? We had a really good Sunday – sales were up 17% on the previous Sunday. People seem to be doing a bit more at home – the impact is getting bigger every time they play. The next match is at 5pm on Saturday, so I anticipate a stonking weekend.