Waitrose in Ponteland won this week thanks to a full basket and excellent customer service. Our shopper was impressed that staff guided him to the product he asked for and helped him choose the right variety. Another plus was the lack of a checkout queue.

Morrisons in Cheadle Heath had no items out-of-stock either. The checkout operator was efficient and friendly and other staff were helpful too.

Honeydew melon, All-Bran and Ferrero Rocher were out-of-stock at Sainsbury's in Wigan and there was a five-minute wait to pay, though staff were helpful when our shopper made it to the ­checkout.

"For every staff member that was helpful, there was another who was useless," our shopper said of Asda in Dondonald. When he asked for help finding the fresh cream eclairs a member of staff said that he didn't work in that department. Another member of staff loudly told her colleagues to "shut up" while online shopping pickers stood around in fits of giggles.

There was also litter on the floor that a manager was left to pick up, and abandoned stacking ­trolleys and crates. Whole trout was out-­of-stock.

Tesco in Tring had helpful staff but our shopper could not recall any exceptional examples of good ­service. Both out-of-stock items, the Anchor butter and Harpic, were on price promotions.

Winner:  Stacey Stump, branch manager, Waitrose, Ponteland

How long have you been at the store?
I joined the company 12 years ago and opened this branch when Waitrose acquired it from Somerfield last year. Converting the store has been a great experience. Both the employees we took on and the customers responded very positively. We've had great growth in sales and managed to retain all the partners who came across
What's behind the sales growth? A lot of customers show up that didn't go to Somerfield before. Some customers said that they have stopped shopping outside of the town and kept their custom within Ponteland. That's where the growth has come from, rather than people coming into the town. There are also more SKUs than before in the same space, and we added some deli counters too.

This is the second time one of your stores has won [Eldon Square, November 2009]. How do you maintain good service? Above all I think it's about creating an environment where people enjoy working and want the business to succeed in the local community. As co-owners you give them the right tools and they want to deliver high standards.

What do you look for when hiring new staff? We acquired some good people from Somerfield and have a low turnover. Where we've had to recruit it's for attitude and behaviour rather than experience. We look for people that fit in with our ethos and our way of doing business in the partnership.

Which products have been selling well recently? If I look at the top 20 lines over the last couple of months soft fruit has really been at the top and so has our essential range. The Delia and Heston ingredients have consistently performed well. Some, including Delia's asparagus with "nearly hollandaise" and Heston's lamb with tapenade saw a nearly five-fold increase.

Is the store involved with the community? Each month, we split £1,000 of profit between charities voted for by customers. In over a year we've supported three different charities each month. We also support various events like Ponteland in Bloom and Party in the Park.

Read more
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