Waitrose Temple Fortune opened in 1945, as branch 65, formerly trading under the name of Cope’s stores.
In 1960, the shop was converted to self-service, and delivery and credit were abolished. This also happened at Golders Green, Gerrards Cross and Berkhamsted, as they were converted to self-service stores.
At the end of January 1968, Waitrose was re-allocated branch numbers in the range 100 – 249 for selling branches and 250 – 299 for non-selling branches. Temple Fortune became branch 125.
Waitrose Temple Fortune – from the Gazette
Gazette 12.6.1948 pg 215 – ‘With the increasing popularity of fresh frozen fruit and vegetables, it may interest Partners to know that Waitrose were amongst the first to install the special refrigerator cabinets in some of their branches; this was in 1938. The number of branches able to retail these items has been increased, but of course the demand still exceeds the supply. South Kensington, Surbiton, Windsor, Ealing, Gerrards Cross, Temple Fortune, Belmont, Golders Green and Wandsworth branches are equipped with these cabinets.
Gazette 15.8.1964 pg 719 – “Since the Waitrose shop at Temple Fortune was converted to self-service, and delivery and credit were abolished, in October 1960, turnover at the branch has more than doubled. Sales per square foot so high that an extension became essential for any further progress.
Three neighbouring shops have been bought and the work of conversion began in May. When rebuilding is completed in April next year Temple Fortune will rank as a supermarket and have about 4,500 square feet of selling space against its present 1,800 square feet. Temple Fortune will become the second branch in Waitrose to have a delicatessen department. The first was Slough.
Present working space behind the scenes is not only cramped but awkward for the running of a self-service type of shop. Shelves have to be frequently refilled (some items need replenishing almost hourly during the week-end peak) with goods wheeled or carried from the stockrooms. ‘It’s quite a job getting through doors and narrow passages with loads’, reports Mrs M Jackson, a shelf-filler.” Branch manager was Mr R S Jones.
Gazette 27.3.1965 pg 180 – “Waitrose Partners at Temple Fortune in North London this week opened the group’s newest supermarket in what was one of its oldest shops. The final stage of preparation for opening began on Saturday evening. In an hour and a half every shelf was cleared of stock and a crash programme began. In two days, the shop was redecorated and every shelf filled, opening at nine on the Wednesday morning – no special opening ceremony – the doors were simply opened and the customers came back.
Many customers were using the new trolleys on the first day (previously the density was such that there was only room for four trolleys). The selling team was not quite up to its full double strength of fifty people, but the doubled selling area needed double the amount of filling. Sales on the first day were a comfortable 66 per cent above the previous year.”
Gazette 2.10.1971 pg 888 – ‘Temple Fortune must be well known by now for the big increases it has been putting on in the past year. The sales density is very high. The branch had the sixth highest sales per square foot in the Waitrose group in the half year that ended in January 1971.
All this has been achieved despite relatively poor facilities both in the shop and behind the scenes. As with most of the older supermarkets the building was not designed for such a high volume of trade. The stockroom is painfully inadequate and inevitably boxes have to be stored all over the building, wherever space can be found. Perhaps the worst aspect of the cramped conditions is the lack of a large enough room for preparing deliveries of fruit and vegetables. After a large delivery some stock has to stay outside in the yard before it can be brought in for preparation. Dealing with this situation in wet weather is no fun.
The branch is in the middle of a busy high street with no private parking facilities, yet despite this most of their customers are car-borne. The area is a wealthy one and the manager of the branch, Mr G Tweedale, thinks that Waitrose probably draws the same kind of customers as John Barnes which is “just down the road”. People buy in large quantities and Mr Tweedale quotes the case of one customer who regularly spends between sixty and seventy pounds in a single visit.
The frontage of the shop is extremely long, deceptively so as an indication of the shops size, because inside there is very little depth. The checkouts are at one end of the shop, at right angles to the windows and when the branch is at its busiest on Friday and Saturday, queues of customers, nearly all with trolleys, sometimes stretch a long way into the shop. One way of helping to relieve this congestion would be to install another checkout, but as Mr Tweedale points out, there just isn’t room for one.’
The store was extended again in 1993, with the acquisition of neighbouring shops. Despite its difficulties (lack of car park etc) the branch has always had loyal customers. When a major competitor opened directly opposite, two years prior, Mr Coelho was inundated by customers who were afraid their store might close. “They all wanted to give support to the branch in whatever way they could.”