David Potter waitrose kingsthorpe

Source: Pixelero

Winner: Waitrose Kingsthorpe, Northampton

Store manager: David Potter

Opened: 1973

Size: 24,000 sq ft

Market share: 6.9%

Nearest rivals:  Asda – 0.3 miles, Morrisons – 2.1 miles, Sainsbury’s – 2.9 miles, Tesco – 3.7 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI.

Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

Congratulations on the win. I understand this is a big week for the store? It certainly is, your mystery shop happened at the same time we kicked off a big refresh of the branch. The whole thing is set to take around eight weeks and really looks to modernise the store and make the most of the existing space. We are putting in all-new refrigeration, a modern café and around 50% more lighting, which will be LED and so cut down our energy use. We are also getting a new John Lewis fixture as part of the Better Together strategy – in total we will have 16 bays of John Lewis products, which I am sure will be very popular with our customers.

How much disruption will the process create for shoppers? As little as possible, hopefully. The plan is for most of the work to happen through the night. We plan to continue trading with a full assortment and move things around as we need to. We will have partners in the store making sure customers can find what they are looking for.

Has the store benefited from the soaring demand for online groceries? This has been a big success for us. We have tripled the number of deliveries we are making and there will be a new dedicated area for online operations as part of the refit. It’s one of the ways that shoppers have changed their behaviour in the last year including the return of the weekly shop.

How has the last year been for you and your colleagues? It has certainly been a challenge but ultimately the team here has really worked brilliantly – we have supported the community as a business and really supported each other. I think we embraced the challenge right from the start, followed all the guidance and have done everything we could to keep partners and customers safe.

As lockdown eases, are shoppers still sticking to the guidelines? I think they are. You will always get one or two people that don’t, but by and large everyone has been great and we’ve had very few issues. We are still taking a very cautious approach when it comes to the number of shoppers we have in the store at any time. I think that is the right thing to do so everyone can easily keep their distance and ensure they all feel safe when they come in the store. I have seen other stores where that hasn’t been the case and so I think it’s really important.

Is your store part of the rapid coronavirus testing programme for staff? Yes, we were part of an early trial of testing. Our partners take two tests a week and I think it has worked really well for us and will continue to play a part as we move forward.

How has the sunny weather shifted shoppers’ buying behaviour? I think we are seeing the normal seasonal change in terms of the outdoor products such as barbecue and picnic products. But with everyone spending more time outdoors I think these are going to be even more popular this summer and the new products we have coming in are really exciting. The new John Lewis seasonal range will also play a part in these sales as well.