Bishop's Stortford (101): Opening

Waitrose Bishop’s Stortford opened on 17/8/1993.  The following appeared in the Partnership’s in-house magazine, The Gazette, at the time.


Partners at the new Waitrose Bishop’s Stortford are banished to the tower several times a day…. not because they’ve been misbehaving, but because that’s where the branch partner dining room is located, in the turret on one side of the building.
The feature ensures the shop blends into a townscape that has many old malthouses with their distinctive rooflines. Waitrose is on the site of an old brewery, close to the town centre, and just a step away from the town’s picturesque high street with its small shops, alleyways and pubs. The branch also sits beside a main road through the town with a park and open space opposite.
Around the shop is an extensive car park with 180 spaces for Waitrose customers, adjacent town car parks provide twice that number. A piece of living history lies deep beneath the Waitrose car park in the form of a time capsule buried by local school children in April. The sealed, rust-proof box contains examples of the children’s work and other mementos and will remain untouched for another 100 years. ( Features in The Gazette, 8th May).

Waitrose Bishop’s Stortford opened with the full Waitrose assortment. Plants and flowers welcome customers as they walk in, and to one side of the entrance is the Customer Service Desk, where shoppers can purchase gift vouchers and obtain information on the many specialty lines that Waitrose offers. The counter also sells cigarettes and miniatures.
The main assortment includes greeting cards, newspapers and an extended range of toiletries, cleaning products, shoe care and household goods. ‘Although the shop is slightly smaller than the one at Bury St Edmunds, we still have an extensive assortment offering customers everything they are likely to need.’ Says Nick, Branch Manager. The sandwich and takeaway section is right at the front of the shop which Nick believes will attract customers who wish to pop in quickly at lunchtimes.
Directional signing helps customers to familiarise themselves with the layout of the shop and the new distinctive colour co-ordinated signs above the Customer Service Desk, give the branch a stylish but intimate feel.
Special features include a combined meat and fish counter with Partners able to serve on either part and an extended wine department. The latter has two promotional islands and the section has been designed and merchandised to create a real wine shop feel.

Nick, Branch Manager was in a state of keen excitement in the run up to the opening. We had teams of people from merchandising, development, the EPOS team, local Partners and local contractors in the same building at the same time, all with different priorities but all working hand in hand . ‘The spirit of cooperation has been quite fantastic’, he says. Nick, previously Branch Manager at Buckhurst Hill has been with the Partnership for 3 years, following many years with another retailer. He is pleased that his new management team has been drawn from a wide area. ‘We have a very cosmopolitan branch’ he says, ‘Partners have transferred from several branches but because the road links in the area are very good, only one has actually had to move house’.
Peter, Section Manager Wines/Non-Food has been a Partner for three years and also came from Buckhurst Hill. This is his first appointment as section manager. ‘Although I’ve got a big section to run, with a large wine department and the increased non-food assortment, I have really been looking forward to it.’ He says. ‘I have some really good staff and they are really motivated.’
Lorraine, Section Manager Office/Administration, was one of the first partners to be recruited to the new shop. ‘Although I worked at the Saffron Walden branch, I already lived in Bishop’s Stortford., so it was natural for me to apply to work here’, she says.
Since being recruited in May, Lorraine has spent much of her time in the recruitment caravan on the site.’ The response from local people has been very positive’ she says. ‘Passers-by were forever popping in and asking me when we would be open. We were also in a position to offer jobs to some very able people. Lorraine is responsible for the day to day running of the branch’s administration as well as for the scanning operation and the audit team.
Tony, Assistant Section Manager, Patisseries/Frozen Food lives in Letchworth some 20 miles away; however, that did not put him off applying to transfer to Bishop’s Stortford.
‘It’s a good journey as long as you don’t get stuck behind a tractor, ‘ he jokes. He was previously at Buckhurst Hill and before that at Welwyn Garden City for 2 years. ‘So this is my second branch opening’ he says. ‘When Welwyn Garden City opened it was all new to me, now I am obviously more organised and familiar with what it takes to get a new branch on stream.’
Callum, Department Manager, Fresh Foods reckons that Bishop’s Stortford is the 16th branch in which he’s worked, though it is his first opening.’ I worked in Milton Keynes when they relocated the shop, but this is the real thing and very different.’ Callum’s previous branch was Brent Cross where he spent 2 years. ‘It is going to be a strange experience working in a market town after the hustle and bustle of Brent Cross ‘ he says.
Carol, Selling Partner, comes to the new branch after working for many years for a competitor in the town. ‘I was having a job fitting in the demands of my 2 children as well a s my work there,’ she says ‘my hours here are much more flexible.’ She has found the transition from one retailer to another a fairly painless experience ‘It is very much what I expected ‘she says ‘and I know all the checkout Partners have been looking forward to using the new scanning tills.’
Carol lives in a small village just outside Bishop’s Stortford but knows the town well. ‘All the local people have been really looking forward to Waitrose opening in Bishop’s Stortford and I think we will do very well.’ “

Edited excerpt from The Gazette 21 August 1993, Vol 75, No 29

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