After 38 years being on West Street, Waitrose has relocated. Loyal customers have not been looking forward to this day, but luckily the new store in Chapel Street offers a new and exciting opportunity for both customers and the town itself.
The new store is based in the rarely visited east end of town, will hopefully bring the less visited shops more footfall and increase sales of empty premises. Annie Mulady, President of Marlow Chamber of Trade & Commerce and Mulady Solutions Ltd owner, comments “I am delighted that Waitrose are staying in the town, albeit in a smaller store. From a business perspective I am pleased that the staff at Waitrose have retained their jobs. I envisage the new Waitrose store will be good for the businesses on the east side of town, with the increase in footfall in Spittal Street supporting independent and chain stores in that area – it is certainly good news for Marlow.”
MyMarlow was lucky enough to get an invite to the pre-opening and to get a sneaky peak around the new store.
Although thereis no longer a deli, which is a shame, there are a few new aspects which will help customers to forget the changes.
The addition of a cafe on the first floor is a brilliant bonus for the shop, accessible and overlooking the shop floor the cafe is spacious and comfortable with both sofas and dining tables. The menu will consist of a made-to-order menu which is made from the same ingredients that can be bought in the store (customers can also pick up mini recipe cards so they can re-create their favourite dish at home).
There is also a community room, available via booking, and a ‘Food for Now’ section, which is perfect for the customer on the go – full of snacks, sandwiches, salads and drinks, plus a range of cookery books, writing stationery and greetings cards.
But the real bonus of this store is the personal touch – being in a different setting with a new style Waitrose is trying hard to ensure customers will remain loyal and return time and time again.
Although there is noticeably less space, the team have utilised it well and have introduced more local produce, on some areas taking over ¼ of shelf space over non-local brands.
Oliver O’Mara, local and regional product manager, said “we are committed to our local lines and are always keen to support local businesses.” The range of produce includes wines from Twyford, Honey from Oxfordshire, Beers from Marlow and Chiltern Valley Ice cream.
O’Mara went on to say, “out of our Ale range, ¼ of the products are locally produced, we always keep a relationship with the producers and endeavour to bring in their new products when available.”
Behind the scenes Waitrose is committed to helping more local brands break into their stores even though space is premium. O’Mara recommends any company to contact the National Food Group to get help and advice on how to break into the marketplace. Of course, Waitrose head office is also more than happy to offer advice and in fact does help many brands with their marketing.
Darren Kirkham, manager, will be taking over the running of the new store and will take ownership of the local replenishment including wine and beer.
When you walk into the store you may notice the absence of wine that is because it is upstairs – along with 2 full-time, qualified, wine specialists. This service stands out from Waitrose previous service offering as it provides a more personal approach. Customers can sit down with Dan Field or Mike Laurence (or one of the assistants) most days of the week, taste wine, discuss party bookings and use their expertise to discover wine. They also offer a 5% party discount, glass hire and a sale and return offering – not bad!
Waitrose have clearly thought a lot about the customer and want to put them first, they encourage discussion with customers and are excited to move the business forward.
Darren Kirkham will officially be opening the store at 8am on 13th January.
Oh, and yes, there are trolleys!