High-quality products and excellent availability as well as friendly and chatty staff helped Waitrose in Billericay land this week’s Top Store award. It was the retailer most suited to the area, according to CACI, and the store was described as “a notch above the rest” by our shopper. She was particularly impressed with the delicatessen, meat, fish and cake counters, as well as the two sampling stands.

Although Asda in Benton, Newcastle, provided a full basket and the staff were helpful, some of the products proved difficult to find. Fortunately there were just enough tills open and help was offered to pack our shopper’s goods.

The Morrisons in Anniesland, Glasgow, was a spotless store with clutter-free aisles and polite staff. The fish, meat and cheese displays were impressive and there were plenty of promotions dotted around the store.

There were no queues at Sainsbury’s in Swadlincote and the store featured lots of half-price offers. The staff were also very helpful and even offered to photocopy an out-of-stock leaflet for our customer.

Staff at Stockport’s immaculate Tesco proved exceptionally helpful when helping to locate an item. However, some aisles were blocked by staff who were busy putting together online deliveries and few items on our list were on promotion.

Winner: Mark Partridge, store manager, Waitrose, Billericay

How are you competing with other supermarkets?
Customers were coming to us for specialist foods, as well as fruit, vegetables and meat, but were going to competitors such as Tesco and Asda for bulk foods including coke and bottled water. So now we are pushing our offers much more strongly than before. We have lots of our staple basket branded lines on promotion, price-matching Sainsbury’s and Tesco on 100 lines.

What ranges are flying off the shelves at the moment?
Our Easy range of high-quality ready prepared meals is doing really well. We also have As Good as Going Out, a range of top-tier ready meals providing excellent food at supermarket prices. Both ranges are up 32% year-on-year despite there being lots of restaurants in this area.

How do you deal with theft?
We don’t have many problems with theft but do work very closely with the police and community initiatives. The police recently held surgeries in our branch where we helped with the training of special constables. They acted out different role-play situations with our staff and we provided feedback.

What’s been the most effective change to the store in the last year?
The Potential Reduction Reporting (PRR) electronic system, which controls the amount of waste we produce by making forecasts from sales and the amount of waste produced in the past. We scan the items to find out how much of a product we have and the system tells us how much to reduce stock levels by.

How do you and your staff socialise outside work?
We have a vibrant social club, which arranges events such as theatre trips and in-branch bingo, which go down very well. We have a 10-year anniversary party coming up, where we are hiring out a venue and inviting former and new staff. We have also just held a 60s, 70s and 80s party.

When was your store last in the papers?
We sponsor the Billericay in Bloom flower competition and presented the awards last month. We also sponsor our local running club, the Billericay Striders, whose members are running its annual 10k race next month.