David Hughes was talking to Stephen Jones

Store manager: David Hughes
Store: Waitrose Pontprennau
Opened: 2008
Size: 24,500 sq ft
Market share: 3.62%
Population: 308,130
Grocery spend: £7,646,494.89
Spend by household: £59.37
Competitors: 77
Nearest rivals: Aldi 1.1 miles, Asda 0.2 miles, Co-op 1.3 miles, Iceland 1.4 miles, Lidl 0.8 miles, M&S 2.8 miles, Morrisons 2.8 miles, Sainsbury’s 2.1 miles, Tesco 1.2 miles, Waitrose 0.7 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

How long have you worked in retail? My dad was a store manager and had me working in retail from a very young age. I started at Sainsbury’s when I was 15 – I had to apply to the council for a work permit while I was at school. I spent a couple of years at John Lewis, but the love of food retail drew me to Waitrose 12 years ago. I started as a team manager trainee and moved my career through the ranks to become branch manager here five years ago. 

Our mystery shopper complimented the look of the store. When was your last refit? It was during Covid. We invested a couple of million pounds to reshape the shop in order to meet the growth of online demand. We needed to create floor space to pick and store the orders, so built a new permanent structure in the service yard. Then it was increasing the size of the fleet from four vans to the 16 we have now. Dotcom sales remain quite a substantial percentage of branch trade. Having said that, customers love shopping here. The food service counters are a great proposition. It’s those unique points of difference that keep people coming back to us.

Other stores have seen online demand drop off. How have you been able to protect yours? We service pretty much the whole of South Wales from Chepstow to Swansea, so it’s a really big geographic area. For a lot of our customers, it’s the only way they can get hold of the Waitrose brand. That’s really protected us. Waitrose has not got a huge presence in South Wales but what we do have is a really loyal customer base.

Is there a difference in what on-demand customers are buying? A year ago, we might have been seeing three or four-item baskets of bread and milk. We’re now seeing customers place 50 to 60-item orders through on demand. They’re doing full shops. I didn’t expect that.

You got top marks for shop floor service. What’s driving those standards? We have 240 partners, 46 of those are drivers. I think the Welsh in general just want to do a great job, that’s who we are, it comes naturally to us. The team are superb and that just makes my job as manager so much easier. We just try and make it as enjoyable as we can, we try and have fun and spend time with our customers. It sounds cheesy but that to me is what authentic service is all about.

Why is there another Waitrose store less than a mile away? It’s a small Waitrose at Cardiff Gate services.

Waitrose has been flying in the Grocer 33 this year. Why do you think that is? Our focus over the last year has been on availability and the Simpler Shops programme. The alignment of partner hours has worked fantastically, and the output is that we are serving our customers really positively with the products they need. Our availability is there and we’re giving great service. We’re investing in lower price, we’re really sticking our values and our principles, and also bringing in new ranges.

How are you promoting the new Ottolenghi range in store? It went live on Monday with a standalone display at the end of our world cuisine aisle. We try and bring it to life for partners as well so that they can understand it. So on Friday, we’re having an Ottolenghi cook-off amongst the team in the partner dining room.