Waitrose Bury St Edmunds opened on 6/7/1993. The following article appeared in The Gazette at the time.
“Waitrose Bury St Edmunds opened on 6th July with an expanded assortment particularly in non-food and a new interior design. The next shop to open with some of the se features will be Bishop’s Stortford next month.
The exterior of the branch has been created in traditional Waitrose style and includes a Suffolk stone-finish on the main entrance to blend in with the local architecture. Just as much attention has been paid to the inside of the shop. Central Partner, Martin, Interior Designer of the branch says’ We tried to give a spacious feel and clear signs above the merchandise.’
Customers entering the store are met with a colourful display of fresh flowers which are on sale in bouquets and in pots, there are also shelves full of plants.
From the entrance, the eye is led naturally down the new, wider aisles to the Fruit and Vegetable department, against the backdrop of the cheerful, bright Delicatessen counter at the back of the store. Newspapers and magazines are next to the flowers and the Customer Service desk, where customers can ask for general information or to borrow a fish kettle for instance and buy cigarettes and chocolate.
The striking meat and fish counters crown the back wall of the shop and new display cabinets in the Patisserie and Delicatessen departments enable the products to be used as attractive decorations in their own right. In the Patisserie section sumptuous wedding cakes, children’s cakes and christening cakes are on sale, while joints of ham, hanging salami and jars of pickles grace the deli.
A large assortment of greetings cards and stationery can be found in the middle of the shop, and there is a stamp machine by the check-out tills, too. There is also an extended range of shoe care, toiletries, barbeque essentials, napkins and cleaning products. Disney delights, and Beatrix Pottter favourites are available from the children’s video section. Pet care accessories and candles form another part of the non-food range.
In the words of the Waitrose Bury St Edmund’s leaflet (see Countdown to Opening), the shop supplies ‘everything you need for one stop shopping.’
Sara, Department Manager Fresh Foods is glad to be back in Suffolk, where she grew up. ‘I started my Partnership career as an A Level trainee at Saffron Waldon’ she says, ‘but I was glad to return to Bury. There are different pressures here to those in the branches nearer London. Although the pace of life at first does not seem to be as hectic, it is steady and there is the same amount of work to be done.’
Sara enjoys the atmosphere of Bury St Edmunds, ‘I like the traditional market with its pigs and cattle, and stalls full of farm produce,’ she says.
Stuart, Branch Manager has the awesome task of opening the new Waitrose in Bury St Edmunds.
‘Opening a new branch is exciting enough,’ he says ‘But this shop has many improvements – a new layout and new goods on sale – so it is even more of a challenge. For the management team, this week is probably the most exciting time in their careers.’
Stuart says ‘This is my first opening as a Branch Manager, although I’ve done one as a Deputy and about eight as a Staff Trainer.’ He left Waitrose Peterborough to open the Bury St Edmunds branch and has noticed a good local reaction to the store.
‘There was an excellent response to our recruitment advertisements, and ninety percent of those who applied were local, ‘says Stuart. ‘Local shoppers also seem to be enthusiastic about the idea of a new Waitrose.’
‘One of the main differences with this branch is that from day one, we are scanning purchases at the tills. The scanning equipment was installed three weeks before opening on a Monday, by Wednesday morning, we were handed over a live system and training could begin.’
A Branch Manager, in the weeks leading up to opening works with his management team to ensure that the contractor’s work is meeting the target, that training Is being carried out and stock is arriving. He or she must be constantly on the shop floor to deal with any of the million and one problems that could arise.
Andy, Department Manager Dry Goods left a twelve-year career in the Army to join the Partnership and has found Partnership training very different from Army training. ‘Rather than telling your team what to do, you’re discussing what needs to be done with them and leaving the fine detail up to them. It encourages people to work to their full capability.’
Andy says ‘A branch opening gives you an insight into how the whole of Waitrose operates as a cohesive body – merchandising, distribution and so on can all seem remote when you’re working in an established branch, but a branch opening brings them all together.’
Kate, Patisserie Manager, used to work for Waitrose Milton Keynes before packing a rucksack and heading off into the Australian Outback.
‘I travelled around Australia, America, New Zealand and parts of Asia for 18 months,’ says Kate. ‘In Australia I worked my way around doing all sorts of different jobs – nannying, fruit picking, painting and decorating, bar-work and a stint at a diving centre at the Great Barrier Reef.’
Kate’s wide experience has enabled her to cope with the unpredictable in her daily life – and during a Waitrose opening. ‘When I returned to England, I wrote to Waitrose, saying I was back and then an opportunity came up at Bury St Edmunds. I’ve moved up here now and I’m enjoying myself – there’s no time to be bored. And if ever I do get a touch of the wanderlust, I can gaze at the fish counter and imagine diving off the Great Barrier Reef!’
Dennis, Selling Partner wines and spirits, is a local man who has worked in a gents’ outfitters for 22 years. ‘The two weeks we spent at Waitrose Newmarket as part of our training were very valuable,’ he says. ‘Although, I’ve had plenty of retail experience, I needed to learn the Partnership way of doing things, and of working in a supermarket rather than a small shop.’
Dennis already feels quite at home in the new branch and says, ‘The nice thing about Waitrose is that it’s like a small corner shop, except on a bigger scale.’ “
The Gazette 10/07/93
Vol 75 No 23