Tracey Kirkpatrick waitrose reading

Source: Tina Cleary Photography

Tracey Kirkpatrick was talking to Lilith Foster-Collins

Store manager: Tracy Kirkpatrick
Store: Waitrose Oxford Road, Reading
Opened: 1995
Size: 25,030 sq ft
Market share: 11.48%
Population: 255,161
Grocery spend: £6,898,537.90
Spend by household: £68.60
Competitors: 63
Nearest rivals: Aldi 1.5 miles, Asda 0.9 miles, Co-op 0.8 miles, Iceland 1.9 miles, Lidl 1.4 miles, M&S 1.7 miles, Morrisons 3.0 miles, Sainsbury’s 2.0 miles, Tesco 1.0 miles

Source: CACI. For more info visit 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

What’s been your career trajectory at Waitrose? I’ve been at this store almost five years now. I joined back in 1998 and worked my way through a number of different shops. We’ve seen so much through the past five years in Reading. We actually won the Grocer 33 once before, about four years ago. It’s brilliant that the shop has been recognised again.

What it’s like operating a store in Reading? We’re just slightly out of the town centre itself but we do have some of the big competitors around us. I think what’s great about Reading is you get such a variety of customers. We’ve got everyone from individuals to families, and they all have really different shopping habits. They come to us because they love our service, they love the partners that are here. We’re always getting great feedback on the individual partners in the shop. Our shoppers are also really passionate about having great-quality food, and are interested in the provenance of the food and our partners are able to talk confidently about that. That’s what makes us special in the in the Reading area. Tilehurst, which is where the store is located, has a real community feel to it. We have lots of regular shoppers, but we also get customers coming from all over the Reading area and across from Caversham as well. Reading has everything when it comes to supermarkets, customers can shop anywhere. So we really appreciate our customers who choose to shop with us.

What are you prioritising to draw customers in and keep them coming back? I think availability is key. Customers want to come in and buy what they’ve got on their shopping list. But the service has also got to be right up there – if customers aren’t getting a great service then they can easily go elsewhere. We’ve got an in-store café, and customers will come in and use that as a bit of a community meeting place as well. We make sure that the partners in the café really look after their customers.

How the year been so far? It’s flown by. We’ve crammed a lot into a couple of months. The shop is in a great place and partners are looking forward to the coronation, which is our next big event. We’re looking forward to being able to celebrate that both in shop with our customers. We’re seeing all the excitement build up – we’ve got banners, bunting, bags, a really lovely range. We’ve got the Jack Russell cakes. Customers are really interested in it. We’re getting lots of questions about what’s available. And it’s great having a conversation with customers about what they’re doing for their own celebrations. Lots of street parties and family gatherings on the day itself.

How do you ensure the store offers great service? I love my job and I think that’s a great start as a leader because you model that behaviour to the partners and you’re leading them in how you want your customers to be treated. I feel like I’m quite an inclusive leader and like to create lots of space to really be able to coach and help partners understand what customers are looking for. It’s important to give them the time and space to learn more about what our customer needs are and how they can provide for them. Also, partners take a lot of ownership and pride in what they do in this job.