Waitrose invests in service counters with plans to train fishmongers and butchers

Waitrose & Partners has unveiled plans to place its service counters centre stage in order to differentiate its offer from competitors.

The supermarket chain is launching a pilot scheme to raise the expertise of staff working on their service counters. Initially training 10 fishmongers and 10 butchers, the longer term ambition is to train a further 200 existing staff over the next two years.

The fishmonger course will include knowledge of a wide variety of species, sustainability and skilled filleting techniques. Waitrose’s own research has shown that fish counters are currently the number one factor influencing customers to visit its shops.

The butchery course will include detailed knowledge of a wide range of cuts of meat, cooking techniques and butchery skills. The retailer has already begun the process of further developing knowledge and skills of more than 200 staff already working on its meat counters. The new training includes offering a more personalised service, more customisation of meat joints for individual customers and an increased focus on traditional butchery skills such as butchers’ knots, which allow flat pieces of meat to be turned into rolled joints using butcher’s twine.

Further training is also being deployed for charcutiers for selected shops testing a new deli range, and work is underway on a cheesemonger programme.

Simon Burdess, director of food service at Waitrose & Partners said: “Service counters are the jewel in our crown. They give us a unique opportunity to offer our customers an outstanding level of service, whether they are looking for something special, personalised or with less packaging. We want to ensure they stand out even more by developing the skills of our Partners [staff] to a higher level, as well as ensuring we offer the very best, most distinctive produce on our counters.”

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