Banstead supermarket opened its doors to the public on Tuesday morning. It is Waitrose’s second completely new supermarket this half year and in between times they have extended two others.
Banstead was originally going to be a Fine Fare shop, but Waitrose stepped in to acquire the site when Fine Fare changed their development plans. There were complicated negotiations with contractors as Waitrose wanted to extend the original site as they wanted to include more amenities on the first floor such as dining room and kitchen facilities for Partners and to have a car park with checkout facilities adjacent for customer convenience. These design changes meant that the there were delays to the construction phase. In the end the job took only 14 weeks from the date of the final go-ahead.
Supermarket design is changing all the time, so Banstead is not just a replica of other Waitrose stores. It has 4,500 sq ft of selling space. It has the traditional longer-than-wide shape, with three runs of free-standing gondolas, leading the eye from the front windows, right to the back of the shop. Windows, both front and back let in plenty of daylight. Meat, instead of being at the back, is on the left as you go in. Clearly visible, over the refrigerated displays, is the preparation area – completely open and looking very crisp and clean with elegant pale tiling and modern packing machinery.
A reversible conveyor belt carries incoming goods up to the first-floor warehouse and a hoist connects the warehouse with the selling floor. One useful innovation to keep shelves stocked with one of the fastest sellers – sugar – has been the introduction of four moveable fixtures for sugar. The fixture is filled in the warehouse, lowered to the selling floor, and wheeled into place. This means that partners are spared the job of constantly filling the shelves on the shop floor amidst many customers.
Another cheerful change is the soft background music played to customers which can now also be heard in the warehouse. The colour scheme is lively throughout the branch which contrasts with the exterior grey of the building. Waitrose blue on the walls has been replaced with warm light yellow , the inside front wall has a dark patterned orange wallpaper. Fixtures are a neutral grey and white, enlivened with blue. The Partners’ Dining a Room décor is rich and welcoming, however, Banstead Partners will not have much time to admire the bright colour scheme, as once the branch opened on the 700th anniversary of Parliament, customers started to arrive. It was pouring with rain, but there was a steady stream of customers filling their baskets. Sales, despite the rain, exceeded expectations which bodes well for the future of the branch.
Branch 112 is off on its journey with good wishes from everyone.
Edited excerpt from Gazette Vol 47 No 21, 26th June 1965