Waitrose Woodley 143. 1970 -1983
The first Waitrose Woodley, branch 143, opened on 15th September 1970, in the middle of a sizeable shopping centre. The store opened with a staff of forty six full-time, nineteen part-time and twenty seven weekend Partners, managed by Mr A Smith who had transferred from Waitrose Temple Fortune. Several other Partners transferred from Heelas in Reading, including Mrs S Potts and Mrs H Beale.
In 1982 Partners at Woodley held their Christmas party in a rather unusual venue: their own dining room was too small for all party guests, and looking for a venue that was not too expensive, a local transport café was suggested. ‘Brushing aside their visions of sticky ketchup bottles, the branch’s social committee went to inspect – and found a splendid suite above it.’
The store closed on 21st May 1983, making way for the new store which opened as branch 180, situated approximately 100 yards away.
Waitrose Woodley 180. 1983-present
Waitrose 180 opened on Tuesday 24th May 1983. The branch was almost doubled in size, meaning more jobs. A total of 202 Partners, including 53 newcomers, managed by Mr Melvyn Gifford , “We have introduced a self-service wine department and loose fruit and vegetables.”
Advanced technology was installed at the new store to save energy and to warn of any refrigeration failures. Mr Paul Ovstedal was the Assistant Development Manager responsible for the development of the reopening: “The opening and closing times of the shop have been fed into a central computer – lights come on automatically two minutes before opening. Heat sensors automatically adjust heating levels, and in the evenings the computer calculates how quickly the shop will cool and when to turn the boilers off.”
108 school leavers were recruited by Waitrose in 1983, and amongst the new recruits at Woodley were school leavers Mark Giles, David Smith, M Smith, D Channon, P Fishlock and Miss J Rowland. Other Partners at Waitrose Woodley included, Alison Blanchard, Steve Ridgeley, Rebecca Tomlin, Gary Tomlin, Brian Howarth, John Gale, Geoff Underwood, Jeanette Sellwood, Graham Coker, Janice Ternent, Ken Fermor, Jenny Harris, Doran Pearce and Stuart Finley.