Laura Ward waitrose wilmslow

Laura Ward was talking to Stephen Jones

Store manager: Laura Shaw
Store: Waitrose, Wilmslow
Opened: 2005
Size: 23,328 sq ft
Market share: 15.03%
Population: 201,028
Grocery spend: £5.2m
Spend by household: £62.67
Competitors: 45
Nearest rivals: Aldi 4.5 miles, Asda 3.7 miles, Co-op 0.2 miles, Iceland 3.8 miles, Lidl 0.8 miles, M&S 0.1 miles, Morrisons 4.3 miles, Sainsbury’s 0.3 miles, Tesco 0.1 miles, Waitrose 1.8 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

Tell me about you and your career? I’ve been with Waitrose my whole career, so 18 years, and six months at the Wilmslow store. I started working in the café after I left school. Thankfully I don’t do any cooking anymore as that’s not my forte, but that’s when I fell in love with retail and working with people.

Wilmslow is synonymous with rich footballers’ wives. Is it different from other Waitrose stores? We have quite a typical Waitrose demographic. We get a lot of people coming in for the new £5 meal deal as there’s a lot of office space near the store. The biggest difference is my team. Obviously the partner difference is huge for every Waitrose store, but I’ve really seen partners come out of their shells and make every decision through customer eyes. I’m not having to spoon-feed it. It’s really come to light in the last six months as we’ve adopted new processes. We’re doing things in a better, more efficient way that gives partners the freedom to be more available for the customer.

The latest round of price cuts applies to some counter products, has it helped sales? It’s a bit early to say. However counters are a massive point of difference for us, so any sort of footfall we can put towards them is a success. One thing I’d like to focus on in-store is really making more of them through more tastings and new displays.

Our shopper noted food to go looked particularly good… We’ve had the right PoS to highlight the right offers there. From a merchandising point of view, it’s making sure the availability is still there throughout the day. We’ve got really good as a business at having the right PoS to support the right initiatives in store, and making sure the customers really understand the message behind it.

What’s your favourite display? My favourite display of all year is Easter, so it’s been really good to see lots of bold PoS, and the new packaging looks really prominent in-store. From a visual and merchandising perspective, it just looks really powerful. I’m really proud of the partners in how we’ve taken what was a good-looking branch to a really excellent-looking branch. Last week, on their own initiative, some partners created an aisle end to promote the new price cuts. It’s got lots of the value products to really showcase the variety of products included.

Our shopper noted availability was excellent. Have you invested in this as well? There’s two sides. One is making sure we offer the right alternatives if we don’t have something, and partners do that really well. On the other side, we’ve really worked to make sure we are consistent every day with our processes, and relentless in delivering those at the right time.

Are you talking about the Simpler Shops programme? How has that been reflected in-store? It’s not been about cutting hours, but about moving the right partners to the right times, where we see that demand. Basically, that has enabled us to be more consistent about when we should do processing, and ultimately that plays a part in the overall look of the branch going from good to excellent. There are many arms to it, but for me it’s the consistency piece. That’s been a massive turnaround here.