Waitrose Wimborne 805 opened on 8th July 2010.
The following article appeared in the Partnership in-house magazine at the time.
Waitrose Wimborne opened last week [8th July 2010] – eight weeks ahead of schedule – to a warm, enthusiastic welcome. The shop which has a sales floor of just 20,000 square feet and took nine months to build, was first mooted several years ago and has been the subject of lengthy planning negotiations, but on Thursday there were wide smiles and gasps of delight as local people saw inside their new Waitrose for the first time.
‘Waitrose is wonderful’ said Elizabeth, who was first through the doors with her husband, Philip. ‘We love the quality of the goods and we’ve been excited about the new shop from the start: it’s definitely what’s wanted here. We’re sure it’ll bring new trade into the town.’
Five pupils from St John’s C of E First School, along with their headteacher, cut the ribbon to open the sparkling new shop. Each child was the winner of his or her age in a ‘food origins’ art competition, judged by Branch Manager Ian.
The school is currently raising funds for a new eco park and sensory area which will receive a bench made of recycled ‘ Bags for Life’ and will be amongst the first beneficiaries of the Community Matters scheme.
The connection with the school is just one of the ways that Waitrose is planning to embed itself in the local community. Almost two acres of green space around the branch will soon be available for public use, and a bridge will be built across the river allowing access from the adjacent shopping area. The Waitrose site was previously a cricket pitch and last year former occupier Wimborne and Colehill Cricket club was relocated to a new site with a smart new pavilion. The division will also be sponsoring this year’s food festival in Wimborne in October.
Ian praised the main contractor, Wates and said the shop enjoyed a ‘good rapport’ with its neighbours. ’We’ve had a few issues with roadworks but otherwise everything’s been on track. Of course support from elsewhere in the business has been fantastic as well as the teams from Store Development and Growth, we’ve had help from the Support and Flood teams and from Partners from other Group A branches. The recruitment process was hectic – in fact we closed the list after we had received 900 applications for 180 vacancies – and our new Wimborne Partners have been getting valuable hands on experience at Parkstone, Christchurch, Ringwood. Dorchester, Bridport and Winton.’
Among those new Partners was Jane, Supermarket Assistant Fresh Foods, who has returned to work after having her family, ‘I’ve noticed that at Waitrose, everyone looks after each other – we all work together,’ she said. ‘I’m really excited about opening. It’s a great shop and the quality of the food speaks for itself.’
Michael, another Partner on Fresh Foods, joined the branch after being made redundant. He was enthusiastic about the ‘Waitrose welcome’ and described his training as ‘unbelievably good. Wimborne has been waiting for this for a long time,’ he added.
For many local residents Wimborne Minster is a focal point of the town and its Rector, Canon Holbrook, visited the new Waitrose on opening day to say welcome. ‘It’s time for the town to move forward and I hope the store will prosper and help Wimborne to flourish,’ he said.
Vol 70 No 28