Waitrose 168 originally opened in the town centre of Andover on 6th October 1970. On the same morning, a large Tesco opened in Andover with an official ceremony performed by celebrities. However Waitrose was able to attract a large number of customers and by 11 o’clock trading was quite brisk.
The manager was Mr R G Jenner, who was previously the deputy manager at Henley. Andover was the third largest supermarket in 1970, employing 110 Partners.
In August 1990, Waitrose Andover relocated to a new branch, but still within the Chantry Centre. The new shop was able to offer an expanded assortment, and an even better standard of service. All Partners were enthusiastic about the move.
‘It is very different from opening for the first time in a new place’ said the Branch Manager John. ‘We are already well known and have a good customer base, but the new shop will enable us to offer our customers an expanded assortment, an even better standard of service and, we hope, attract more shoppers.’
Both the old and the new branch are in the Chantry Centre. The centre has been in the throes of being extended and re-furbished for the past 18 months which has caused a great deal of upheaval. But now it is all finished the centre is looking extremely good.’ Branch Manager, John added.
The new shop is in the just completed extension to the centre and is about a third bigger than the old branch. It is right next to a new multi-story car park along with the re-located bus station and taxi rank.
‘During the building work our car-parking spaces have been rather restricted, so we are looking forward to having the situation back to normal. All the Partners at Andover are enthusiastic about the move. ‘The old branch still looked remarkably good’ said Fred, Assistant Section Manager on Wines who has been at the Branch since it opened in 1970. ‘But when I saw the new shop, I realised that it had got a bit dated. The new wine section is much bigger and more attractive, and I am sure that it will be very popular with our customers. Communication about the transfer has been extremely good. Everyone visited the new branch before the move, and we were always kept up to date with what was happening.’
The new shop is spacious and very light with the latest cream shelves and fittings. The display refrigerators are fitted with an easy-to-read digital temperature gauge – as is the salad bar which will be a new feature for this branch.
There are 12 main checkouts plus two in the wine department. The tills will all be equipped with an electronic system to take debit cards such as Switch. Susan from the Waitrose implementation team was at the branch to give additional training.
The assistants were already using the same tills, so all they had to learn about was the EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at point-of-sale system,) which is a separate unit usually located to the side or behind the cashier. It takes most Partners about an hour and a half to master the new technique.
Behind the scenes there is an efficient and easy-to-clean warehouse with a lift, which can take six cages and two hoists. ‘The fixtures can be moved and altered much more easily so the space is more flexible’ explained Branch Manager John. Additional storage is also available above the meat chiller.
Andover is the first branch to have a totally new type of kitchen installed for the PDR. ‘It is a new kitchen which has just been developed for Waitrose and will in future be installed in all branches,’ said Philippa, Waitrose Catering Supervisor. ‘The main changes are in the serving section which has been re-thought to bring us up to date with modern styles of serving and to meet the needs of the latest regulations in fresh food handling. There are three units, all tiled and on wheels for easy cleaning. One unit is for cold display, one for hot food and the third is a beverage self-service unit and cashpoint.’
The old branch until it closed on Saturday 18th August.
‘Transferring a branch is rather different from opening a new one as you have two operations on the go at the same time.’ Said John the Branch Manager. ‘You are preparing the new shop while at the same time the old branch must be run as efficiently as possible. The aim is still to have every line available until the last moment but to have as little stock as possible to be transferred when the branch closes.
The Branch Manager, his management team and selected Partners moved into the new branch on Friday 10th August 1990, leaving the old branch in the care of Kevin who is acting as ‘Closure Manager’. Kevin has been seconded from Westbury Park where he is DM Dry Goods.
‘I shall head a team of Section Managers and other Partners who will make sure that the old Branch will stay in top form right to the end. I shall try and transfer as much stock as I can whilst still meeting customer needs. If I do run out of any line, I can get it from another Branch. Once the old shop finally closes, I shall be here to see all the stock, equipment and fittings out of the building.’ said Kevin.
Some 70 extra partners have been employed in the new shop. ‘Our recruitment programme went extremely well and we were able to open with very nearly a full permanent staff,’ said Paul, DM Fresh Foods. ‘New shops often have a lot of Partners helping out temporarily from other branches. This hasn’t happened at Andover- our team is well-established right from the beginning.’
The Gazette, 25th August 1990.
Opened: 6th October 1970
Relocated: 21st August 1990
Address: 67 Chantry Way The Chantry Centre Andover Hampshire SP10 1LY