Thatcham (659): Opening

Waitrose Thatcham opened on 25th July 2000. The following appeared in The Gazette at the time.

The opening of Waitrose Thatcham on 25 July 2000 took the number of Somerfield conversions to 10. Making its debut with a very successful opening day, branch 659 seemed determined to show customers that its 9 week transformation had been well worth the wait.

The varied assortment, full range of service counters, high standards of customer service and 200 space car park look set to make the new Waitrose branch Thatcham’s “destination shop”. Located on the busy A4 just 3 miles east of Newbury, the small town lies at the heart of Waitrose territory and the new branch expects to attract many customers from outlying villages, including those across the border in Hampshire.

“The last few weeks have been fascinating and what is particularly satisfying is not just how Waitrose has converted the building, but how it has ‘converted’ the 120 staff who transferred from Somerfield,” says Mr Waterhouse, who is on secondment from Waitrose Woodley. “They are really enthusiastic, and you can see the pride they are taking in opening their shop. Together with the 60 new Partners we have recruited, have risen to the challenge of learning the Waitrose way of doing things. Our longer than average closure allowed us to do more in-depth training, and I think most haye been impressed with our thoroughness. I’m also pleased that their numbers will soon be swelled by the team of experienced Partners who are transferring from Waitrose Tilehurst [which closed on 29 ]uly].”

The layout of the shop was rotated 90 degrees to create a better shopping environment and to give the checkouts more space.

The reaction from Thatcham’s first customers certainly seemed to bode well. “I‘ve been waiting so long for this to open.” said Marion “I like Waitrose’s range and quality, and think it is the ideal place to shop when you are entertaining at home.”

Geoff Salt, Distribution Director (Waitrose) was also bowled over by the branch’s “terrific” transformation, and paid tribute to all Partners involved. “For those working in Distribution, as for Partners across the business, converting and opening so many shops in such a short time has been a real challenge. I’m particularly proud of the way the teams at both our Regional Distribution Centres have not only coped but have also improved our everyday service to the branches.

Reflecting on trade in the first few hours, Mr Waterhouse concluded: “There has been a lot of interest in the Waitrose offer and an interesting mix of customers who are familiar with Waitrose and others who are still feeling their way round. Their expectations are very high, and we plan to do everything we can to meet them.”

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