Waitrose Barnet

Branch 109 at Barnet was to become the Partnership’s tenth supermarket when it opened in September 1962. A former cinema, the shop was compact and inviting, admirably placed in the middle of the main shopping area. A car park at the back of the building could accommodate thirty customer cars, and the six checkouts at the front entrance were arranged in pairs, back to back, in angled bays. The belt which carried the purchases along the checkout counter halted automatically every seven inches, calculated at the right distance to match the time it took the operator to press the cash register keys for one amount. The Gazette described the interior as “surely the gayest and most richly coloured that we have so far created”.

With regard to goods handling, Barnet was exceptionally fortunate in having such good facilities. ‘The days when a hindquarter of beef had to be manhandled in and out of a cold room are gone for ever’. There are three unloading points in the car park. Each opens straight into its own storage cool room – one for meat, one for greengrocery and one for provisions.

Dry goods were sorted and prices marked on the first floor of the warehouse. One method of price marking was the printed circle in purple ink, very familiar then. Six dabs of the marker on the ink pad would print 200 prices. Or there was the Press-o-matic which spat off tiny little sticky tickets at any price chosen, at forty a minute. This was ideal for soft or wobbly shampoo packets or single oranges.

Branch 109 ceased trading at 5.30pm on Saturday 11 March 1989, to make way for the new branch, number 191, which opened at 9am on Tuesday 14th March 1989, BM Mr Russell Cattell.

The new branch was only a few metres away from its predecessor, but they were vastly different in style. “The new Waitrose Barnet represents a totally different era in shopping,” commented Russell Cattell. Close on 100 extra selling assistants were recruited to bring the number of Partners and weekend assistants to nearly 200.

Mrs Janice Spriggs had joined the original branch as a grocery assistant in 1964, remaining in charge of the tea and coffee shelves in the new shop, “I’ll be a bit sorry to move” she confessed. Careful steps were taken for Mrs Spriggs and other long-serving Partners, to develop a certain amount of familiarity with a new-style Waitrose. “There has been training for everyone – old and new Partners alike. Most of them have had a chance to experience a short period in one of the large branches in the area” said Mr Cattell. “It’s been comfortable and very cosy here – and now Partners have to adjust to the size, new departments, etc”.

There was some breathless excitement, for the new store, for instance, in the description of a “new kind of bacon unit” with its charcoal grey marbled base and tiered half-shelves offering rashers and joints. A novel feature was the machine which fitted a “closely-moulded stretch film bag like a glove round the joint.

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