Excitement mounts over Waitrose opening

The new Waitrose supermarket which opens in Helensburgh tomorrow (Thursday) has caused so much interest that police have issued a special appeal to drivers.

Police Scotland say the area around the store in Cardross Road will be busier than normal around the 8am opening and motorists should allow extra travelling time.

There is still frantic activity at the store - staff from England have travelled hundreds of miles to spend the week helping set it up.
There is still frantic activity at the store – staff from England have travelled hundreds of miles to spend the week helping set it up.

Waitrose say a large turnout of customers is expected on the opening morning – and the first customer in through the doors of the new branch will receive a bouquet of flowers and bottle of champagne from branch manager, Brian Murrie.

The new store will see a milestone reached for Waitrose, the food branch of the John Lewis Partnership – its 300th branch in the UK.

It will be formally opened tomorrow by Cllr Vivien Dance, who was one of the main movers in bringing the store to the town, and Tanya McVey and Chloe McGinley, two local women who were recruited as apprentices for the new store.

At  a preview event tonight Mr Murrie thanked all the local supporters who had campaigned in favour of the store being given planning approval.

Brian Murrie stressed commitments to charities
Brian Murrie stressed commitments to charities

“Hard work and determination has turned literally a piece of waste land into a spectacular store,” he said.

Waitrose will give £1,000 to local charities every month, but in the first month the figure will be £3,000.

The store has created 200 full and part-time jobs in the town – a total of 1,400 people applied for these.

It is 109 years since Waite, Rose and Taylor opened the business’ very first grocery shop in Acton, London, in 1904.

The original trio opened their first modest shop to challenge the unscrupulous practices for which the grocery trade was renowned at the turn of the 20th century.

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A string quartet entertained guests at the preview event

These included fixing scales in their favour, adding chalk to flour and bribing servants to shop in their stores. In contrast, the founders of Waitrose shops aimed to ‘lift the food trade to a higher plane’ and treat customers and workers fairly.

Growth within the business – still renowned for the quality and integrity of its products, as well as its industry leading customer service – has accelerated rapidly within the last decade.

At the turn of the millennium, the supermarket chain had just 121 shops clustered largely within the South of England. Newark in Nottinghamshire was its most northerly shop.

Today the business has six supermarkets in Scotland, as well as a growing presence in the North of England, Wales and the South West.

Stock ranges from branded catfood to salted caramel popcorn ice cream by Heston Bluementhal
Stock ranges from branded catfood to salted caramel popcorn ice cream by Heston Bluementhal

The 25,000sq ft Helensburgh shop is the furthest yet from the site of the first Waitrose – a 430 mile drive from Acton.

Mark Price, Waitrose  managing director, said: “While we’ve grown rapidly in scale since the very first Waitrose more than a century ago, it’s remarkable how the original philosophy of our founders  – based on the honesty and integrity of the business –  is still at the heart of everything we do.

“Although our new shop in Helensburgh demonstrates how the scale and ambition of our business has transformed over the decades, the pride in our food and in the distinctive customer service we offer, still has its roots in that very first modest business in Acton.”