On arrival in Waitrose I was struck by the politeness and respect shown to one another in contrast to Fine Fare where the Branch Manager of the day thought nothing of leaning out of the office overlooking the shopfloor and ‘eff n blind’ at us for walking instead of running to and from the warehouse ! He was an ex Regimental Sergeant Major complete with slick back hair and full length apron. He replaced my original Branch Manager who went to Busy Bee’s in Ramsgate which released a certain Trevor Brown to come to Waitrose as a Management Trainee.
One of Trevor’s (sorry, Mr Brown’s) early stints was at Gloucester Road and he walked up to me in his usual purposeful manner and without any introductions said ‘I know all about you’ ! Of course, he later became a Branch Manager and subsequently Operations Manager Group B.
I helped Josie down her aisle which consisted of Canned Fruit, Fruit Juice and Soups on one side and Medical and ‘Ladies Medical Requirements’.
For the (anorak) record, cans came in recognised sizes as follows:
10-12oz cans- A1, eg Peas, Carrots, Condensed Soups and Soft Fruits etc
15-16oz cans-A1T(tall) eg Baked Beans, Peaches (clingstone and freestone), Pears etc
20oz cans- A2 eg large tins of Beans, Rhubarb, Grapefruit, Canned Fruit Juice etc
28-30oz cans-A21/2 eg. v.large cans of Peaches, Pears, Fruit Cocktail
There were also some much larger cans, I believe catering packs were A6’s and big fruit juice cans A10’s, but I may have got those two back to front but these sizes were industry standards at the time.
I was very much left to the can side which sold more Lychees, Mangos and Papaya than any other branch whilst Josie worked on Medical and some Toiletries.
I’d been used to the rough and tumble of Fine Fare so was completely unfazed by ‘Ladies Medical Requirements’ so when as a teenager I offered to help Josie fill the shelves with Dr Whites and Tampax she almost had a fit of the vapours !
Once established there was a chance of a move up the rank and file pecking order when Mr Campbell, the most senior rank and file partner on the Grocery shopfloor, retired and I was put in charge of the prestigious Tea, Coffee, Bread and Cakes aisle. Most importantly this role was responsible for helping to keep the Dining Room supplied with stock assembled on a dumb waiter hoist from the basement to the top floor kitchen.