Waitrose opened its first branch in Kent at Allington Park, near Maidstone on 28th May 1970.
It is the largest supermarket the partnership has opened at 11,400 sq feet. (Slough is larger now having been extended since it opened.)
Allington Park is about one and a half miles from the centre of Maidstone on the London Road and on the outskirts of the town. The Waitrose supermarket is in the mid-Kent shopping centre which is very similar in layout to the shopping centre at Tilehurst. Waitrose is the first shop to open. There are another nineteen retail units, though some retailers may take a double unit. Scheduled to open so far are a bank, butcher, chemist, ladies hairdresser , newsagent and a restaurant.
The shopping centre has a car park for some 250 cars. There is every hope it will be well filled as the town centre of Maidstone has poor parking facilities for shoppers.
Allington Park seemed to us to be Waitrose’s finest supermarket yet – bright, spacious and with longer than usual runs of fixtures that give the shop the appearance of being well stocked with a vast range of merchandise.
Because of the sloping site the bulk storage area, offices and Partners Dining Room are downstairs, but the offices and dining room have normal daylight from windows. The preparation rooms are on the ground floor behind the selling area. There is no upstairs.
On opening day the shop did not appear to be exceptionally busy yet when a check was made at mid-day it was found to have taken more money than any other Waitrose supermarket at such a stage in its existence – though this may have been helped a bit by opening on Thursday rather than the usual Tuesday. Thursday was chosen as opening day because of the Bank Holiday (deliveries which could not be made on a Monday ready for a Tuesday opening) and Wednesday is the half day.
The Branch is staffed by 105 Partners plus 35 weekenders.
Gazette 6th June 1970