Ashford's Firecracker Opening

Ashford, one of the UK’s fastest-growing towns was aglow with news that Waitrose has arrived, opening it’s doors for the first time on Guy Fawkes Day, 2009.

Ashford rocketed into life as it opened its doors to its enthusiastic Kent customers on Guy Fawkes Day, providing a boost to local jobs and suppliers. The 17.787 sq ft store has created a further 34 jobs for the area in addition to the 120 positions it had already announced, making the total number of recruits to 154.
Local suppliers have also benefitted as we have extended contracts with 13 of our local and regional producers. One such local producer , Simply Ice Cream, based just 5 miles from the branch came to the store from midday onwards to give customers the opportunity to sample three of their favourite flavours.Customers enjoyed tasting the Vanilla, the award-winning Honeycomb Crunch and under the Simply Special pot label, Christmas Pudding flavour. All were available in branch.

Branch Manager Dave said ‘It’s great to be finally opening. The amount of work that has gone into the shop’s design has been incredible and the store looks amazing. We’re looking forward to becoming part of the community and continuing to show our commitment to the area.’
As part of the commitment the Branch sponsored the local charity bonfire and fireworks display that took place of 6th November. It was therefore timely that the store opening should coincide with the first day of our second ‘Cut of the Day’ promotion which from 5th to 8th November saw a third off the whole range of service counter sausages in time for bonfire night and the weekend. As well as our popular existing range there were new sausage flavours including toffee apple as well as black pudding.

Gary, Project Co-ordinator (Meat, Poultry Fish and Dairy) said ‘We have been running a very successful Catch of the Day Promotion throughout the year and have now added this type of promotion to the service meat counters with great success. The first promotion was for leg of Pork which achieved a 300% increase in sales.’

Meanwhile there was no hiding the excitement of branch Partners. Among them was Ian, a 23 year old Customer Service Assistant who had transferred from Tenterden where he has worked for 7 years, initially as a part timer while he was doing his A Levels and for the last 5 years as a full time Partner. ‘ I applied to transfer to Ashford because I thought it would be a career move and I thought it would be an exciting opportunity to open a new store and meet new people. It’s nice to be one of the experienced Partners and give support for to the new ones when they are unsure about something. They have all really got good attitude and there has been a terrific buzz around the place.’

New Partner Declan, 19 was looking forward to using his customer service skills and his food knowledge. ‘After I did my GCSE’s, I went to catering college for 2 years and worked in restaurants – in the kitchens and front of house, but the one thing it made me realise was that I did not want to work in restaurants. I still cook at home and I am always doing things with food and what I like about Waitrose is that you can buy food here that you won’t find in other stores.’ Declan is now working 25 hours with Waitrose and he has gone back to college to study Accountancy.
‘I live just 10 miles from the store so I know that people around here have been absolutely dying for the store to open and we have had lots of positive comments about it from customers.’

DM Retail, Tony, has been a Partner for 19 years. He joined Tenterden when it opened as an ASM Dry Goods. ‘Ashford is my second new branch opening, so it has been interesting seeing it from a different perspective as a DM. Of course, the business has moved on a lot since then and the level of detail and support from Bracknell has been fantastic.’
Ashford is the sixth branch he has been posted to, having worked most recently at Paddock Wood.
Enjoying his new role, Tony said ‘I am constantly surprised by the amount of experience the new Partners have. In the FRV section alone, we have around three Partners, who either ran their own stalls or had their own businesses. It’s great that they came to us with this enormous amount of knowledge and hopefully they can add to the knowledge that Waitrose as a business already has.’
He added, ‘It’s a fantastic team and a great mix of people from all different kinds of backgrounds. They are a pleasure to work with.’

Chronicle Vol 69. No 46.

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