Wandsworth (673): Opening

Waitrose Wandsworth opened on 19/02/2004. The following article appeared in the partnership’s in-house magazine The Gazette at the time.

Most Wandsworth residents don’t have the time to queue at 8.30am for a supermarket to open – even if it is the latest Waitrose branch – they are probably too busy deciding what the rest of us are going to think next year (see below), but by 11am it was a different story.

“Actually I’m at a meeting,” confided one power-suited woman to another as they surveyed the impressive fish counter. “Oh I put strategic planning in the diary,” was the reply. “But this is work,” insisted a third “It’s keeping up with the latest food trends.”

On Wandsworth’s first day last Thursday trade built steadily as new Waitrose customers wandered in (“It doesn’t look like any supermarket I’ve seen before”) and regular shoppers made determined tracks to the service counters.

The new branch is the anchor store in the Southside Shopping Centre, currently being refurbished at a cost of £100m, and sits at the intersection of the Central and South Malls.

Project Manager Alex Cheong-Took co-ordinated the internal building work on the bright and airy branch, with Lucy Strathon, Interior Designer (Waitrose) overseeing design details. It has two entrances, one from the mall – which takes customers directly to a ‘snacking area’ with sandwiches, hot food and salad bar- and the other from the multi-storey car park leading to a new-style welcome desk where customers can discover the full range of Waitrose services available.

“It is a great idea having the snacking area next to the mall entrance as we expect that is where most of our basket trade will come from,” explains Branch Manager Marcus Hazell (pictured). “In one cohesive area customers will be able to buy everything from a bacon roll from the Bratt pan to a ready meal to take home for dinner. Mr Hazell, who was previously branch manager at Woodley and joined the Partnership six years ago from Sainsbury’s, is enthusiastic about his move.

“I’ve worked in London supermarkets before and I’m looking forward to being back in the city, especially as Wandsworth is such an interesting area. I know we are going to be popular with customers – people have been so eager to shop with us that last week they kept trying to get through the hoarding at the front of the shop. The branch is splendid, I’ve got a great bunch of Partners and now we are open I’m really looking forward to the challenge of building the business.”

Mr Hazell is obviously a man who thrives on challenge. Less than 48 hours after his new branch opens he is getting married. “The opening date was brought forward and I didn’t want to move the wedding so I had to make it all work.” A 10-day honeymoon in Jamaica should help him recover from both events.

Steve Vine, Department Manager, has moved from Twyford and is expecting a rather different type of customer. “I’m anticipating a high basket trade and a lot of people shopping in the evenings – especially when the cinema complex opens later in the spring. Trade on opening day has already got off to a very good start.” And from the evidence of opening morning it looks as if they are also going to be eager to engage with Partners.

New Partner William Kennedy, Supermarket Assistant and the branch’s wine specialist, was already busy helping customers find their way round the spacious wine department. “I’ve worked with wines for many years and it is a subject I enjoy learning about. I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge with customers and helping them to choose the bottle that’s right for them.”

Supermarket Assistant and meat specialist Philip Riggs is also eager to sell wine. “If a customer buys some organic beef I always suggest they buy something from the wine department to go with it,” says Mr Riggs, who has transferred from Putney. “I really enjoy the job I do especially when I can help customers choose the right product and I know they will come back and see me again.”
Mark Price, Director of Selling and Marketing, was more than happy with his latest branch. “Everyone who had a hand in the opening of Waitrose Wandsworth can feel extremely proud of their achievement,” he says. “I know our customers will be well served and I’m sure it will be a huge success”

From a further article in the same Gazette

Waitrose were seeking a suitable site in the area when they were approached by Portfolio Holdings who owned the Southside Shopping Centre and wanted a high profile food retailer located there. Southside was a redevelopment of the former Arndale Centre built in Wandsworth in the late 1960s and a flagship project in the area’s regeneration.

Wandsworth was identified in Experian research as a home for the urban élite with a concentration of “people who are well—educated, interested in ideas, in trying out new foods, new holiday destinations, new technologies and new leisure pursuits and who have always been of interest to retailers”. People whose lifestyles and views shape our country’s futures.

Waitrose Wandsworth has service counters for Fish, Cheese, Meat, Delicatessen, Rotisserie, Patisserie and a Food-to-Go area. It offers Click & Collect for Food, Entertaining, Cellar, Gifts and Pet along with other services such as Inner Cellar, Flower wrapping, Gift wrapping and Dry cleaning. There is also a Stationery, Kitchen and Dining-ware offering.


Location: 66-67 Southside Shopping Centre Wandsworth High Street London SW18 4TG

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