Edited excerpt from Waitrose Chronicle 7th October 2006. Volume 66. No 40.
“The residents of Ampthill flocked to the opening of our 181st branch, showing their enthusiasm for the shop for the shop ‘that has put the life back into our town.’ said Judith who went along to join in the celebrations.
‘This is going to be a fabulous asset to the town’ said one Ampthill resident in a local internet forum’s thread dedicated to discussing the town’s new Waitrose.
The branch, our 181st opened last Friday and became the first new Waitrose in Bedfordshire in 30 years. It has created more than 160 jobs for the historic market town of Ampthill. Which has a population of about 10,000 and has been without a supermarket sine construction work began to build the branch earlier this year. It is also our first purpose-built shop in 2006.
Helping to ‘build up Ampthill’ is how the new Branch Manager, Neil, sees his role. ‘Ampthill residents have been crying out for a supermarket like this’ he added.
Neil who has worked in the Partnership for 25 years, coming to Ampthill from our Chesham branch where he had been BM for two and a half years, said he was really looking forward to taking on the challenges of a brand-new branch.
‘I’m really excited. It’s great setting something up from scratch, being involved from the starting point, building up the management team and creating the shop, because you have influence over what you want’ he said. ‘I also love change and there’s nothing better than everything being brand new.’
As well as helping re-generate the town, he said he saw his role ‘as initially, to sell the Waitrose brand to Ampthill: quality, service, assortment, exceeding customer expectations, being can-do and having fun in the team. The team here are a great bunch, and hugely motivated.’
One such motivated team member is trainee Wine Specialist, Fiore. He came to England five years ago from southern Italy where the family has vineyards. ‘Wine is a passion for me’ he said. ‘I want to transmit my passion to English people because it’s not only liquid inside the bottle, but also historical and every wine tastes different.’
For example, he describes his own wine Taurasi Aglianico, which he produces for friends and family, as ‘a strong, full-bodied red wine because it grows on volcanic land near Mount Vesuvius.’
Fiore who has a certificate in Italian wine said he especially wants to learn about French and New World wines and get English people to know more about wine in general. He is also keen to promote English wines. ‘I’ve tasted some English wines here and for me is was absolutely amazing, especially the rosé and white wines. I’d like to sell those wines because they are an English product.’
Somewhat surprisingly, wine is just a second string to Fiore’s bow. He’s also a scientist, and at the moment he is splitting his time between full-time work at Waitrose and studying for a Master’s in Organic Chemical management from the University of Naples which sees him working nights in a laboratory over here. ‘The lab work isn’t heavy, so I can do both jobs.‘ he admitted ‘I want this job; it’s part of my life now because I am involved with wine. I want to try my best here and I thank Waitrose for giving me this opportunity.’
Helping Fiore in the wine department is Rob, who was the very first new Partner recruited for the new branch. In fact, he had the interview for Waitrose and was offered the job, which is his first, on his 21st birthday.
‘I am trying to learn as much as I can from Fiore. I just graduated from university, so I am still in learning mode, and this is perfect for me. Learning while in the job and helping customers at the same time.’ he said. ‘There’s a passion in wine that you don’t seem to find in other products.’”