The newest branch of Waitrose was opened in the Kent village of Hawkhurst last Thursday (September 29) by Greg Clark, who is Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The MP for Tunbridge Wells was joined by Waitrose management board director Nigel Keen and store manager Jeremy Barnard.
In February the supermarket chain reached an agreement with Booker Retail Partners GB to acquire the 10,300sq ft unit, previously occupied by Budgens, and took ownership in the summer.
The Rye Road store has created 57 new jobs in addition to those staff who wished to transfer across from Budgens. More than 250 applications were received in just a couple of weeks for the new roles. The store employs 75 people in total.
Greg Clark said: “I’m delighted to be opening the Hawkhurst Waitrose. Hawkhurst is fortunate in having a wide range of shops and cafes and it is good to see Waitrose expand into the village by taking over this important site. Waitrose has a good reputation for customer service and as an employer, and I wish the business every success in Hawkhurst.”
Jeremy Barnard added: “We are proud to be in Hawkhurst and are delighted that the minister was able to join us in unveiling the new store. Having a readymade supermarket unit has enabled us to open relatively quickly, but we are grateful for residents’ patience while we transformed the store. We can now look forward to providing shoppers with our latest products and services, as well as playing a role in the local community.”
Fresh meat and fish counters, a hospitality area and wine department feature in the store, as well as thousands of products with a focus on fresh foods. John Lewis ‘click and collect’, dry cleaning and the ‘scan as you shop’ Waitrose QuickCheck service are available too. The Post Office has also been retained.
Waitrose has launched two community-focused initiatives to support local charities and projects in the area, which have been nominated by its Hawkhurst customers. Its Partner Volunteering programme will provide 100 staff working hours each year and its Community Matters ‘green token’ scheme will see £500 shared between three causes every month.