James Eskriett Waitrose Stamford

James Eskriett was talking to Stephen Jones

Duty manager: James Eskriett
Store: Waitrose, Stamford
Opened: 2009
Size: 16,754 sq ft
Market share: 20.4%
Population: 37,026
Grocery spend: £18,906,783
Spend by household: £62.21
Competitors: 6
Nearest rivals: Aldi 9.5 miles, , Asda 9.8 miles, Co-op 7.5 miles, Iceland 9.5 miles, Lidl 1.1 miles, M&S 0.3 miles, Morrisons 0.9 miles, Sainsbury’s 1.1 miles, Tesco 0.4 miles, Waitrose 11.1 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 been with Waitrose? I’ve been at Stamford for 15 months, but I’ve worked in retail my entire adult life. I joined as a partner while at university, then applied for the graduate scheme once I’d finished. I worked my way around stores in the Midlands and landed my first store management role in 2017. I remember the date because it was the same day I proposed to my wife.

You have a lot of wealthy customers. What are they looking for in-store? We really benefit from the local schools. There’s a private school that is highly sought after, and a local school just behind the car park. We do benefit from the morning school run, with parents popping in for their lunch before work. Equally, throughout the day we have more established customers that pop in for their weekly shop. There’s big desire for our beers, wines and spirits and people are prepared to pay for what they want. Customers know what they’re after and will seek partners out for advice.

What’s the team like at Stamford? We’ve got 96 partners including management, and while it’s a cliché to say, they’re a tight ‘family’ team who all support one another. I’m working with a group of people who want to do a great job day in, day out. You can’t take that for granted.

What’s been the biggest change at Waitrose since you joined the store? I can’t get away from the Simpler Shops process changes that have been introduced. As part of that, we transferred the e-commerce operation and the associated partners to Waitrose Peterborough early last year.

It made sense as it’s a larger shop and has a larger range. It made Stamford more operationally efficient. On top of that, we’ve done a lot of work around ‘Right Partner, Right Place, Right Time’ at local level but also across the business. That has enabled us to focus on making sure we’ve got people with the right skills and knowledge at key customer touchpoints.

How have partners felt the impact? We’ve looked at all the tasks in store, asked why we do them and if there is a better way of doing it. There are lots of examples, such as an increase in the number of off-sale scans we do each day to monitor availability levels. Another difference has been the impact of higher-level shelving on the shop floor – it makes it much easier for partners to tell a customer whether we have or haven’t got something stocked. Previously they would have had to physically check upstairs, so they’ve got more time on the shop floor with customers.

Has there been other investment in the shop itself? We had a new roof a couple of months ago. Earlier last year, we had a checkout rebalance, along with a new customer service kiosk. We also reshaped the way our fresh food was laid out. We had some analysis that suggested we could make the customer journey better.

The store win times well with Waitrose’s results this week… It’s exciting. We’ve got our mojo definitely. I’ve been here for 16 years, and I can’t imagine working for another food retailer. People want Waitrose to be brilliant and we’ve made positive strides. The volume of change the branch has experienced last year has been unprecedented. And the way the team handled that has been immense, I could genuinely not be prouder.