Waitrose High Wycombe (2)

Jack Fryer was talking to Stephen Jones

Store manager: Jack Fryer
Store: Waitrose Marlow Hill
Opened: 2016
Size: 17,700 sq ft
Market share: 4.6%
Population: 174,364
Grocery spend: £4,761,460
Spend by household: £69.30
Competitors: 37
Nearest rivals: Aldi 1.2 miles, Asda 0.8 miles, Co-op 2.1 miles, Iceland 1.07 miles, Lidl 1.2 miles. M&S 1.09 miles, Morrisons 1.3 miles, Sainsbury’s 1.2 miles, Tesco 0.2 miles, Waitrose 3.2 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 the store: We’ve got a really diverse local community from a cultural perspective. So there’s a huge variety of people that shop with us. There are several secondary schools in the vicinity so we get a busy lunchtime trade from the pupils. But we’re also a kind of destination shop. We’re just off the M40 motorway, and we’re also close to the centre of Wycombe itself, so we get a lot of customers coming to us from surrounding towns and villages.

How long have you worked for Waitrose? I’ve been with the partnership 11 years, and I’m probably a bit of an alien. I’ve stepped out of head office, and this is my first senior branch role. I’m covering the regular store manager who is currently taking their six months paid leave. I probably have about a month left. My substantive role is as an account manager in Waitrose’s B2B team.

How have you found the transition from head office to store? It’s been a real eye-opener. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone that works in the centre of any retailer – just to go out and get really close to what’s happening on the shop floor.

Our mystery shopper commended the store for its high service levels. How do you drive that in store? Fundamentally we have a really strong team here. People really care. But layered on top of that we’ve been through a period of change over the last 12 months, a degree of which has been cultural. As a leadership team we’ve tried to create the space so partners feel more trusted to be able to give good customer service, and make their own judgements rather than management hand-holding them.

How has the ‘Simpler Shops’ initiative been reflected on the shop floor? We’ve been through some business-led change in terms of Simpler Shops – a large output of that has been about creating more space for partners to actually serve customers. It’s focused on alignment of hours to ensure we’re providing the best customer service, and using the time partners are in store to do the right tasks. The number one operational piece has been the introduction of high-level shelving in our shop. Basically, our warehouse is now on the shop floor and this has helped us ensure availability is as good as it can be.

How was the transition between Christmas and the new year? We exited really cleanly from Christmas, and our seasonal sell-through was really positive. That’s testament to the team, both across day and night operations. They’ve really pulled out all the stops.

Our shopper praised the PoS and presentation of gondola end sales in store. What offers are running currently? We have the Great January Savings Event which runs annually. But we’ve also been rolling out New Lower Prices following the investment in price over the last year.

What are your immediate priorities? It’s just ensuring we’re continually showing up for customers. But also making sure we’re really leaning into any new initiatives the business launches. The team here have been through probably more change than most during the last six to seven months, but the way they’ve embraced that in terms of positivity and resilience is commendable. It really does deserve a special mention. I take my hat off to them for what they’ve delivered.