Waitrose Ely: Opening

Waitrose Ely 205 opened on 10th March 1992.
The following article appeared in the Partnership in-house magazine at the time.

Partners at the latest Waitrose branch are already counting themselves lucky to be working in the new shop, which opened its doors on Tuesday 10th March. Not only are they working in the Partnership’s most up to date branch but are based in picturesque Ely.

Ely residents are certainly excited about their first city-centre supermarket for many years. The general consensus seemed to be that they could not wait to have a look around. The building, in Brays Lane, just a stone’s throw from Ely’s cathedral, is in the now familiar Waitrose style, with an attractive columned entrance. There is parking for 325 cars.
The main entrance to the site is currently at the back of the shop, but when the second phase of a planned shopping centre development is finished in approximately 18 months’ time, customers will approach Waitrose direct from the Market Square in the centre of the city.

The 15,000 sq ft shop has 12 main checkouts, plus one in the wine department and a ‘’bake-off’ facility in patisserie. As at the Welwyn shop, opened last November, fruit and vegetables are weighed at the main tills, which has meant extra training for the new cashiers

The ‘backstage’ facilities at the branch include a large training room. The 48-seat dining room doubles as a restroom. It also has the most envied view in the branch, overlooking the city’s cathedral.
Although the building is new, the surrounding wall which dates back to medieval times in places, has been retained. The site is a former cattle market and is of such historical interest that the Cambridge Archaeological Unit spent two months excavating the site, in a study sponsored by the Partnership. ( Gazette 04.05.91). The dig unearthed artefacts dating back to 2400BC.  One medieval artefact, a 14th century horse harness, discovered on the site, will be displayed in the Partners’ Dining room at Waitrose Ely.

Most of the staff training has been done at the nearest Waitrose branches in Newmarket and St Ives.  Most the Partners worked locally in retailing before joining the Partnership.

Plans for the branch social club are well under way and the branch will field an entry for the charity raft race along the River Ouse in July, part of the city’s annual Aquafest.
A longer-serving Partner who appreciates the up-to-date facilities at Ely is Martin, DM fresh foods. He has been with the Partnership for fifteen years.  ‘Everything is computerised now which means that Partners’ training has to be more detailed. Fortunately, everyone has been very keen and worked hard to get everything ready and on the shelves ready for opening,’ he says.
‘I think Waitrose is going to be a very welcome addition to Ely. It is a beautiful site and the people of Ely have made us very welcome.’
Frances, an Assistant in delicatessen/patisserie worked at Waitrose Ruislip before moving to Cambridgeshire. She is pleased to be re-joining the Partnership close to her home.
‘There is an excitement about opening a new branch, getting everything ready and stocking the shelves,’ she says. ‘This is a large branch but it’s a very friendly one and everyone is keen and cheerful.’
Ely may be a small city, but it is surrounded by large villages such as Soham and Littleport.  Local residents who are used to travelling to Newmarket or St Ives for quality goods will not baulk at travelling into Ely, he believes.

Gazette Vol 74 No7

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