Waitrose has reopened its Salisbury branch with a raft of new features, representing a multi-million pound investment.
The grocery chain said the shop has been redesigned as ‘an early response to changing shopping habits, ensuring that future retail space is designed to offer customers experiences and services that they can’t get online’.
The Salisbury branch first opened in 1997 as one of the largest Waitrose shops and one of the original Food & Home concept branches. It was refurbished and reopened last Friday (November 14).
The 55,000sq ft selling space, which employs 550 staff members, now includes a dedicated collection point for orders including Waitrose.com, John Lewis Click & Collect and Waitrose Entertaining.
Also new is a soft-seating area showing Waitrose TV, plus the retailer’s first fitting rooms for customers to try on orders before leaving the shop. This trial concept is in response to the fact that fashion orders make up 45% of John Lewis Click & Collect orders, and more during ‘price match’ periods. For the year to date, total John Lewis orders collected in Waitrose have increased by 75%. To accommodate increased orders, which are expected to build to 2,000 per week by the second half of the 2015 financial year, Waitrose has built a separate building with a 20 van delivery fleet.
Other new features at the shop include a juice and smoothie bar, a wine bar serving tapas, wines and local beers, grazing areas at the deli bar and bakery section, a new welcome desk with gift and flower wrapping service, new till systems and customer order tablets.
The shop will also trial a new-look fruit and vegetable section with market-feel wooden fixtures, seasonal displays and tasting pods. And TV screens around the shop will change throughout the day with the aim of inspiring customers around the shop.
A 1,000sq ft cookery school is housed inside the shop too. It will be the retailer’s second cookery school and the first outside London. Capable of tutoring 16 students at a time, the school will offer courses from the retailer’s Finchley Road (London) cookery school which opened in 2010, including bread-making, knife skills and world street food. It will also introduce a series of new one-hour mini master classes. Waitrose has announced it will be opening a third cookery school in London’s King’s Cross area next year as part of its development near the train station.
Meanwhile, the branch is home to the largest ever Waitrose café. At 150 covers, it has indoor and outdoor seating, as well as eating ‘zones’, for example with family seating or high bars with sockets for customers’ phones/devices.
Waitrose managing director Mark Price said: “Food retail is undergoing huge structural change – driven by lifestyle changes and an increased use of technology. It is essential that our shops are at the forefront of our strategic response to these changes, preparing us for the future of retail and retaining our leadership in innovation and customer service in the grocery sector.”
Waitrose operates 331 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 55 convenience branches, and another 28 shops at Welcome Break locations. Waitrose also exports its products to 50 countries worldwide and has seven shops in the Middle East.