Waitrose Canterbury (533) opened on 06/10/2011.
The following article appeared in the Partnership in-house magazine.
History was made yet again in Canterbury when Waitrose opened its doors to a queue of customers who have been waiting for a branch in their city for many years. ‘We are so delighted to see Waitrose in the area’, said one of the first customers Anthony. ‘It is a really lovely store – we have been waiting for nearly 10 years for a shop like this since we moved here from London.’
Canterbury is a popular tourist destination with over one million visitors each year and with two universities and a large college, 20% of the city population is made up of students. It is no surprise that many of undergraduates have sought work at the new branch. Partner Rachel is studying History at Christchurch University. She said ‘University fees and rent is really challenging, to be able to find part-time work is really helpful. I live locally so I will be working and shopping in the branch.’
The value message was really clear throughout the branch with bright promotional ends giving a powerful message to the locals who are watching the pennies. However, going forward, Branch Manager David would like students to consider Waitrose as a good place to start a career as well as a good place to shop. He said ‘We hope to educate students about the Partnership and what it has to offer. It doesn’t matter what they are interested in; buying, marketing or management – we can show them what the business has in terms of a career path.’ Café Partner Sarah has already been drawn to the business; she has just graduated and decided to stay in the area. She said ‘The branch is really beautiful, and the standard is so high, it makes you want to look after it. I don’t know what kind of career I want yet, but this is a good place to start.’
Career development was certainly a hot topic in the branch on opening day. More than 200 people in the local area have become Partners, which will mean they will get to take advantage of the training and career progression courses and opportunities available in the business.
New Partner Vanessa has been working in the cosmetic industry for the last 20 years and now her children are old enough, she would like to develop her career further. ‘Although at the moment, I just want to learn the ropes and develop in the role I have, in future, I would like to join the management programme and grow myself further.’ she said.
For 71-year-old Helen, the new Waitrose in Canterbury has given her the opportunity to return to a business she left nearly 10 years ago.
Helen worked for the Partnership for 25 years before she retired. But, as she admitted, she never really wanted to leave. ‘For a long time I have wanted to return to work. However, at my old branch in Ramsgate, they have never had enough vacancies and I wouldn’t want to work for a competitor. Canterbury has made me feel 20 years younger, it is lovely to be back, and my husband and friends have said I certainly have a spring in my step.’
Just before the ribbon was cut on opening morning, David explained to Partners that customers will want the branch to succeed as much as they do. He said ’You only get one chance at this so carpe diem! Make someone’s day today and enjoy it.’
The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Thomas, officially opened the branch and the Bishop of Dover In Canterbury, the Right Reverend Willmott, blessed the shop on the opening morning.
First customer Jenny summed up the general feeling on the day. ‘At last! We are so glad Waitrose is finally here.’
Chronicle Vol 71. No 37