Waitrose Yateley Simon Cuzner

Source: Snap That Photo

Winner: Waitrose Yateley

Store manager: Simon Cuzner

Opened: 1990

Size: 15,000 sq ft

Market share: 12%

Population: 198,741

Grocery spend: £5,615,964

Spend by household: £72

Nearest rivals: Aldi 2.9 miles, Asda 5.1 miles, Co-op 1.1 miles, Iceland 5.1 miles, Lidl 3.0 miles, M&S 3.0 miles, Morrisons 3.4 miles, Sainsbury’s 0.8 miles, Tesco 1.2 miles, Waitrose 3.0 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 our service & availability report.


Last time you spoke to us was in July last year. How have things been for the store since then? Coming out of the summer into the autumn last year was quite challenging because of the driver shortage and availability issues from the impact of Brexit and Covid. But after that, availability improved and that led into a really successful Christmas period.

How was Christmas trading compared to 2020? In 2020 it was very controlled because we were limiting the number of customers in the shop, so the trade was spread evenly throughout the day, whereas this year there were much busier periods in the branch. The week after Christmas was a little quieter than we expected, but overall the branch had a fantastic Christmas week itself and beat budget really comfortably.

What were the biggest sellers? At the start, there was a lot of entertaining and turkeys ordered, although that tailed off a little bit towards Christmas as people were staying at home more. In terms of the seasonal fare, panettone and Christmas gifting sold really well. We had some offers on beef which went well, and our £10 bottles of wine are always very popular.

What’s the plan moving into 2022? The branch is going to have a refit in the beginning of February and it will last about eight weeks. We were hoping to do it at the end of autumn last year, but it got moved to this year. All the fixturing on the shop floor and the main ambient non-food area will be changed. We’re getting new refrigeration, which is more environmentally friendly. We’ll also have more space for fruit & veg. And we’re adding a few things such as dry aged beef and chilled wines so we can increase the offer a little bit. We’ll have the Better Together range with John Lewis products in the store as well.

In the meantime our shopper noticed that all the Christmas decorations were down? Yes. We like a clean exit out of Christmas. Once new year’s has passed, getting into January is really important. The team did a brilliant job in clearing stuff through and getting rid of all the old fixturing so that we could start the new year on a nice fresh note. The shop is in a really good place for the refit and the year ahead, which is exciting.

How’s availability looking post-Christmas? Most of the Christmas stocks sold through before New Year and the availability was coming back this week. We’ve got a few challenges with the supply of some frozen food (hence the Richmond sausages out of stock), and some issues with crisps and tissues.

What have staff absence rates been like in the past few weeks? They’ve certainly gone up. It was noticeable going into Christmas where people were having booster jabs and having a day or two off because of adverse effects. Then we had a few more positive cases of Covid between Christmas and the new year, which made it more challenging.

There has been a lateral flow test shortage. Are you providing lateral flow tests to colleagues? We do lateral flow testing in the branch if partners can’t get hold of them.

Are you testing every day? It’s their choice. We encourage partners to do it twice a week, but if they want to test more than that, they can. 

Veganuary and Dry January have kicked off. Are you catering to these trends with specific displays? We just build it into our normal fixtures. A lot of our promotions are focused towards healthy eating and our vegetarian and vegan range. There are more offers on the fresher and healthier food items to encourage people to start the new year and embrace a healthy January. The demographic who shop with us are more aware of healthy eating than they used to be. We do have quite a lot of elderly customers, but actually it’s a very mixed-up sort of semi-affluent client demographic.

I understand you’re just about to retire? At the end of next week I leave Waitrose after 42 years, so this is a lovely way to go out. We’ve got a new management structure starting up from 16 January. I’ve got another month where I’ll pass on my knowledge and experience to colleagues, and say goodbye to people. So it’s just making sure the team is all prepared for that and finalising the plans for our refit as well. It’s a bit of a strange feeling, but I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s the right time for me.

What were the biggest lessons you’ve learned throughout your time as a manager? The biggest thing is to embrace difference. Change is constant, everything continually evolves and there isn’t always necessarily a right or wrong way of doing things. If you can embrace difference in your approach to life and your approach to people, then you engage and get people who will buy into whatever your vision is.

What advice would you give to your successor? To really embrace that community feel. The branch has a fantastic reputation, and it’s by working together as a whole team that makes the atmosphere in the shop feel like an extension of the local community.