Buckhurst Hill: Opening
Waitrose Buckhurst Hill opened on 14/10/1986. The following appeared in The Gazette at the time.
“The main shopping street in Buckhurst Hill is a jumble of little shops and quaint cottages – and from Tuesday a new Waitrose supermarket.
Waitrose is by far the biggest shop in a street that up to now has been given over mainly to small, specialised shops- antiques, a florist, upmarket boutiques and a smart restaurant.
Despite its size, Waitrose does not dwarf the other Buckhurst Hill inhabitants. The store has been designed to blend in well with the local architecture and its gabled roofs actually add to the old world feel of the road.
Buckhurst Hill lies almost on the border between London and Essex and on the edge of Epping Forest. Its strong village feel is accentuated by the steep slope of the main street and the views of the countryside beyond.
‘The village atmosphere is the first thing that hit me about Buckhurst Hill,’ said Des, the Manager of the new branch.’ Our fellow traders are a close-knit group, and we hope it will not be long before we become an established part of their family. Some of the shop keepers were worried about a large supermarket moving into the area, but I think most of them have now come to the conclusion that our being in the town is going to bring in more trade, and that will be to their advantage.’
Des, a partner for 11 years, was manager at Hall Green, he was deputy manager at Enfield, when that Branch opened.
‘The whole experience of opening a Waitrose store is exhilarating. It is hard work, but the adrenalin keeps you going.’
At Buckhurst Hill 90% of the Partners are new to the Partnership. ‘The section managers have come from other branches, but most of the rest of the staff have been recruited locally. I have been astonished at how quickly the whole team has clicked together and what a cheerful, happy bunch they are.’
The nearest established Waitrose branches are Hertford and Enfield, both about 20 miles away. Ian, DM Fresh Foods, thinks that although it is unlikely, Buckhurst Hill will take customers from those two stores, it will gain from their reputation.
‘Many of our new Partners who are local and heard of the high standard Waitrose sets and I am sure that will be true of their neighbours.’ This is ideal Waitrose country said Ian, who joined the Partnership 11 years ago and has moved from Hertford.
Joyce, a sales assistant in the wine department, has like Ian, made the transition from Hall Green to Buckhurst Hill. A Partner for 8 years, Joyce, started her career at Heelas, as a despatch clerk in toys.
‘I transferred to Hall Green because my husband got a job in that area, and I am moving again for the same reason. I much prefer working in Waitrose to a department store because you really feel you are part of a family. I can’t wait for the first customers to come pouring into the wine shop.’
The wine shop as is normal in Waitrose stores, has its own entrance to allow customers who just want wine, to be served quickly. In this case it also helps to break up the main frontage of the store.
‘We were anxious to make the new Waitrose fit in with the surrounding buildings, which were mostly narrow and low.’ said Waitrose Project Architect, Mike. ‘This meant breaking up the long frontage on Queen Street with gabled roofs and attractive windows.’
LIGHT AND SPACIOUS
The shop itself is light and spacious, with wide aisles and 12 checkouts. An enclave of service counters, from fish to patisserie runs along the back wall, while the centre is mostly taken over by dry goods. Warehouse space is above the shop, except for cold storage which is next to the shop floor. This means that frozen or chilled products can be stored on the same level as the shop. Many of the frozen goods need no further preparation and this arrangement saves a wasted journey up to the warehouse.
The Deputy Branch Manager, Peter, who has been a Partner for 13 years has moved from Enfield to join the Buckhurst Hill staff
‘I was working at Hertford when that shop opened’ he said. ‘So, I was prepared for the pace and excitement, but each new branch is different. At Buckhurst Hill there is a strong team spirit and also a feeling that we are quickly going to be part of a strong local community.’ “
Edited excerpt from The Gazette 18th October 1986, Vol 68 No 38.