Waitrose Hopwood Park now open!
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Weekly updates on the status of Waitrose at Hopwood Park Services on the M42 have become something of a habit lately, thanks to the regular MMSs received from Mark Leaver.
Mark’s latest pic shows the store now trading, following its opening on Friday. Don’t read too much into it being empty of customers, given that the photo was taken just before the store closed for the night at 10pm this evening!
If you need a reminder, the pics below chart the store’s quite impressive transformation over the last three weeks:
The John Lewis Partnership’s latest weekly update for Waitrose notes that Hopwood Park is its “first Welcome Break franchise of the year”, with others due to follow on the M11 at Birchanger Green (February) and the M3 Southbound at Fleet (March). Previously, I remarked upon the importance of Waitrose’s Welcome Break franchises “replicating as far as possible the excellent customer experience and stock availability offered by its regular shops”, and was curious, I guess, about whether the staff at those stores would still be John Lewis Partners, or whether they would be employed by Welcome Break.
Happily, I think I’ve found the answer. Back in April last year, Waitrose’s Commercial Director, Richard Hodgson, explained[broken link removed] that “while the non-management team will be Partners, they will be overseen by non-Partner Welcome Break managers who have expertise in operating in this environment”.
As you would expect from John Lewis, this seems like an eminently sensible approach. Hopefully it will make sure that the Welcome Break Waitrose stores can be responsive to the distinctive environment in which they are operating, while maintaining those core Waitrose values that are at the heart of its employee-owned, partnership model.