Mark Slater Waitrose High Wycombe

Source: Ana Palacios Professional Portrait Photographer

Winner: Waitrose, High Wycombe

Store manager: Mark Slater

Opened: March 2016

Size: 24,500 sq ft

Market share: 4.6%

Nearest rivals: Tesco – 1.4 miles, Asda – 1.5 miles, Morrisons – 1.7 miles, Sainsbury’s – 1.8 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI.

Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

Tell us a bit about you and your store. I started with the business 16 years ago on the graduate training scheme and have worked at a variety of branches for Waitrose across the south east. I’ve been a branch manager for six years and have been at this branch for three years now. This branch opened in 2016.

How has the café performed since reopening? Our café reopened about four weeks ago and each week has grown in popularity, which is great because the café team offer a great service and it creates a real community feeling in the shop.

What’s been the biggest change in your store recently? We really did ramp up our customer deliveries from the branch. But it’s been an amazing thing to help more vulnerable customers get the Waitrose food they want.

What products or ranges have been most popular amongst customers lately? We’ve had a really amazing Levantine range which has been trading really well. We did a lot of partner tastings with that as well just to raise the profile of it. With the hopeful improvements in the weather and the opportunities with the football, there’s that feel-good factor, and it’s had an impact with our customers trading up even midweek for beer, ready-for-entertainment and barbecue ranges.

Compulsory mask wearing laws are being axed on 19 July. How has the news been received amongst your staff? It’s still really early days and we’re continuing to follow the government advice. Currently we’re working hard to understand what this may mean for our customers and partners in Waitrose and John Lewis in England, and still waiting to hear what that means for Wales and Scotland. I know our priority will be the safety of our partners and customers as we go towards unlocking.

How have you found a balance between providing great customer service and keeping staff motivated through the pandemic? The partners here have been fantastic particularly during the past year. And all our customers have been fantastic at adhering to the rules. It’s been an amazing team effort, I’ve been absolutely blown away with how the partners have pulled together as a team and looked after one another to support their customers and the local community. We also supported a lot of our key workers and NHS customers who shop with us locally – we created some really nice care packages for the local hospitals and vaccination centres. So I’m immensely proud.

What is your response to our shopper’s comments that some areas of the store appeared low on stock, particularly for a Saturday morning? We’ve had some temporary supply issues with some shops and are working hard to resolve these as quickly as possible to get the full range of products back on our shelves. I’m very fortunate here with the amazing partners we’ve got – if customers aren’t able to get something, my team have been really good at finding suitable alternatives.