Waitrose & Partners has today unveiled plans to place its service counters centre stage in order to differentiate its offer from competitors.
The retailer is launching a pilot to raise the expertise of all Partners working on their service counters to an even higher level. Initially training 10 fishmongers and 10 butchers, the longer term ambition is to train a further 200 existing Partners over the next two years.
For the butchery course this will include detailed knowledge of a wide range of cuts of meat, cooking techniques and butchery skills. The fishmonger course will again include knowledge of a wide variety of species, sustainability and skilled filleting techniques. Both elements will focus Partners on providing differentiated service across the counter offer.
The retailer has already begun the process of further developing knowledge and skills of over 200 existing Partners 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 this year for selected shops testing a new Deli range, and work is underway on a Cheesemonger programme.
Waitrose & Partners has also added distinctive products to its service counter offer with the introduction of specialities such as Wagyu beef and Hebridean salmon. Dry aged beef cabinets, which offer customers the opportunity to buy premium cuts have progressively been rolled out into 13 shops. Cheese counters, too, have been reinvigorated with the introduction of unique artisan cheeses and wider local and regional ranges.
Both these initiatives form part of the new Waitrose & Partners School of Food programme which aims to develop the knowledge and passion for food of Partners across its branches.
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 to a higher level, as well as ensuring we offer the very best, most distinctive produce on our counters.”
This investment complements the increased focus the John Lewis Partnership has on increasing opportunities for Partners to develop their skills and potential. In 2018/19 over 900 Partners from across the business enrolled in the Partnership’s apprenticeship schemes. Partners from the Partnership's head offices, distribution sites and shops are now on schemes in areas such as retail, LGV driving, vehicle maintenance, hospitality and human resources.