Waitrose Cheltenham 663 opened on 20th October 2002.
The following article appeared in the Partnership in-house magazine at the time.
Waitrose customers woke up to a new kind of shopping on Tuesday [20th October 2002] when Waitrose opened its 58,000 square foot Food and Home shop in the St James’ area of the city. Branch Manager Trevor described its first days trade as “…absolutely fantastic. We had hordes of people descending on us throughout the day.”
Earlier in the day, local resident Nick staked his claim to be the first through doors by arriving in the car park by 5.30am. Although he had set his alarm because he ‘needed some milk and wanted to have a good look around,’ Nick left with a bottle of champagne to help ease the aches from his dawn vigil.
The branch had passed a key milestone two weeks before this week’s opening when a new section of the town’s inner relief road and eye-catching cycle and pedestrian bridge, a riverside walk and the branch’s petrol filling station were officially opened. These developments were just some of the factors that have made Branch 663 the largest single in-house construction project that Waitrose has ever undertaken.
Senior Partners from Waitrose and the Building Group joined local dignitaries and representatives of Costain, the development contractors, for the ribboncutting ceremony on 8th October 2002. Cheltenham Mayor Ken and Nigel, Director of Development and Services (Waitrose) wielded the scissors as Ken hailed the openings of Honeybourne Way, Jubilee Bridge and the extension of Chelt Walk (Waitrose has overseen the diversion of the river Chelt as part of the project) as moves that would ‘allow shoppers back into this part of town.’
Nigel thanked all of those involved in making what he described as a ‘really exciting day’ actually happen after ‘years of blood, sweat and tears.’ The project whose component parts have made it more complex than most, (Gazette 16th March 2002) has spanned seven years, with Partnership departments including Property, Waitrose Development and the Building Group involved.
Keen cyclist Les, Supermarket Assistant, Home Stock Control at Cheltenham, was the first person to ride over Jubilee Bridge, which forms a vital link in the Honeybourne Line cycle route and footpath network. ‘My father worked on the original site here, so I wanted to be the first person to cycle over the bridge,’ he explained.
Anthony, Senior Development Manager (Food and Home) described himself as ‘ hugely relieved ‘ to see these parts of the project open, especially Honeybourne Way, which will relieve traffic flow in the surrounding area. Anthony also oversaw the Canary Wharf development. ‘I co-ordinate the work of the Building Group to ensure that together we produce exactly what Waitrose needs. We have had significant challenges here, but the infrastructure work we’ve had to do has been fascinating. I’ve never been involved in building a road or moving a river before.’
Senior Property Manager James acquired the site, which was subject to a ‘mosaic of ownerships,’ for development. ‘We’ve played more of a developer’s role here and putting the site together has been like a game of musical chairs,’ he explains. ‘It’s brilliant to see how it has all come together.’
For Adrian, this was the end of an era as he has been working on Cheltenham for six years – or, as he puts it – ‘for all of my two children’s lives.’
With the canopy reflecting the clean lines of the main building’s porte-cochere, the branch’s petrol filling station [PFS] is certainly one of the most architecturally attractive places motorists can fill up with unleaded.
‘The main shop is set back behind the PFS and the car park, so the design of the PFS was critical; it gives one of the first impressions of the site,’ explains Adrian. ‘ It looks fresh and airy with spider lights and the new Waitrose PFS corporate graphics. The local Trading Standards Officer said it was the best PFS he had seen in Gloucestershire.’
Rob, Department Manager agrees. ‘To get a petrol station like this into a compact site is a real tribute to the people who designed it. In the kiosk, we’re selling all the emergency purchases, but we will also be offering bolder lines.’
The PFS is only the second one in Cheltenham to sell LPG. It will open 6.30am until 10pm, Mondays to Saturdays and 7.30am to 7pm on Sundays.
Vol 84 No 39