Waitrose continues to build on its estate of countrywide supermarkets with the opening of our Bayswater branch.
Bayswater opened on Thursday last week [June 2008], the first branch to launch our new generation of Mark V supermarkets.
The shop of The Colonnades in London is one of our recent Budgens food shop acquisitions and has been prepared for opening in less than nine weeks. Delighted BM, Sue says ‘The design of this branch has taken the best of Marylebone and John Barnes and put them into a mainstream Waitrose branch.’
The Mark V design has meant a number of firsts for the 12,070 sq ft shop as Sue explains, ‘We are the first branch to open as new with a rolling warehouse and the first new branch to implement the use of the new Potential Reductions Reporting (PRR) which is already being used in some branches.
Des, Head of Retail Operations, Group F, was overwhelmed that the fact that our teams were able to achieve the turnaround from Budgens so quickly, saying, ‘I came to see the branch a few weeks ago – it had been completely gutted and it was just a shell. Yet here we are today with our shining new branch, looking every inch a Waitrose, beautifully turned out – it is quite incredible. All the departments involved, including the building and merchandising teams and all the Partners from Group F as well as other groups have done a terrific job to get it looking so good in such a short space of time.’
However, while it was all change for the shop, many of the original 62 former Budgens employees have taken up the offer to become Partners in the business. In total, 50 of them have continued to work in the branch as Partners, undergoing re-training at nearby London branches.
Also on the shop floor to see the doors open on a long queue of enthusiastic shoppers was Mark, Director of Retail Operations North, whose area includes all the branches within Group F.
‘I am delighted that Bayswater is in the North’ says Mark, ‘I am equally pleased to have the first Mark V branch in the northern region.’
‘It’s amazing what we did in such a short space of time. It really makes me proud to be a Partner – the work and commitment here shows the difference we deliver as a co-owned business.’
Establishing Waitrose within the local community has been a further task in achieving a successful opening.
Des explains, ‘One of the jobs Sue had early on was negotiating with local residents and the council and she has done a superb job. I know that Sue is determined to be a good neighbour in this part of Bayswater.’
Sue admits, ‘The biggest challenge is the work I have done, building relations with the neighbours because we want to prove that we are a good neighbour. We are attached to 300 apartments and mews houses as part of this complex, so a large part of the work has been a matter of trying to negotiate operational matters, not just over the building works but for future deliveries. This includes issues such as lorries turning off reversing lights and putting down mats for the cages when we receive deliveries.’
‘I have also made it my mission to go out and talk to local shop keepers and residents and get to know them. This includes the S.E. Bayswater Residents’ Association and the residents’ association for The Colonnades complex which we are part of.’
The area is a very cosmopolitan neighbourhood, and our customers are from homes that vary from bedsits to £3.3 million houses, yet Sue has met with positive feedback from all quarters.
‘The residents are delighted that Waitrose has come to Bayswater.’ says Sue, ‘They are also pleased that we are calling it Waitrose Bayswater because there are a lot of shops around here who have claimed to be in Notting Hill. We have called ourselves Waitrose Bayswater because that is where we are and we are happy to be part of the community.’
To underline its commitment to the community the branch has rolled out the new Communities Matters Project which gives customers the opportunity to choose the local charities that the branch supports with fund raising activities. Des added ‘I am very pleased the Community Matters has been rolled out here. It is the first new branch to launch it in my group and I think it will be very popular in this part of London.’
Edited excerpt from the Waitrose Chronicle: Vol 68 No 23, 7th June 2008.