Waitrose Chipping Sodbury 751 opened on 10th October 2013.
The following article appeared in the Partnership in-house magazine at the time.
On Thursday 10th October 2013 the Chipping Sodbury branch opened its doors to become the town’s first supermarket – nine months after building work began on a patch of grassland in Barnhill Quarry on the edge of the pretty Cotswolds town.
But the 21,000 sq. foot branch has not forgotten its quarry roots, helping to protect a rich variety of local wildlife and enhance the area as the greenest Waitrose to date, as part of a point of focus store initiative, trialling new concepts.
These include a wood fuelled biomass boiler, saving 50 tonnes of carbon a year, bio-diversity schemes, such as bat boxes and – most exciting of all for the branch team – new look Partner areas.
‘The store’s arrival marks a new chapter in the town’, says Mayor Whittle of Sodbury, who cut the ribbon at 8am. Waitrose building a footbridge to link the supermarket to the High Street, she believes, will lead to ’a bigger footfall’ in the area .’You can just walk across to other shops,’ she says ‘I’m optimistic that it will be good for other businesses in the town.’
As the quarry development is ongoing, with a retirement complex and over 100 homes on the way, it looks as if footfall will increase.
It’s a new start for Partners too – some more than others. Of 164 Partners, 134 have been recruited locally, from various backgrounds including retail and hospitality. SM Personnel, Sarah, explains, ‘some come to us through the local job centre which ran a course to prepare its candidates for our group assessments. We also have several who have recently been made redundant or have been looking for work for some time.’
Operations Partner Kay, is one such employee, having been at home for three years after being a support officer for people with learning difficulties. When she decided to return to the workplace, she was drawn to Waitrose because of its reputation.
‘It gives a lot back to the community, but also looks after staff and supports everything that you do,’ she says , adding that she is impressed with the training. ‘It’s intense but thorough and I am happy about the on-the-job training. Over three weeks we will have people coming in to help, so I feel less apprehensive.’
For Branch Manager Richard, it’s also a career step change. ‘It was my dream to open a branch, when I joined the Partnership two and a half years ago’ he says. ‘So I feel very proud and privileged to be given the opportunity.’ Both Partners and customers are at the heart of the store and Rich is keen to invest in Partner development, revealing that there are four apprentices.’ It’s important that we are doing as much as we can to develop people in the area.’
Customer reaction has been positive so far. ‘They’ve been blown away by how well the shop has been designed with three aisles of FRV and easy navigation. It’s a tribute to the design team and contractors.’ He concludes: ‘The location is great. I want to build relationships with the Chamber of Commerce and traders in the town. It’s a virtuous circle, as we can drive people to the High Street and visitors will see the town as a destination – so we’ll get footfall too.’
Vol 73 No 38