Store manager Nicky Clifford-Goss, flanked by Jane Brown and Geoff Berridge and assorted staff (sorry, partners)

The waiting is over. Waitrose is here

Waitrose_front

You’d think it was the second coming. Excitement levels on Twitter – where usually everyone is so level-headed and calm, right? – have been reaching fever pitch. But even yesterday it looked as if the fitters had their work cut out to get West Hampstead’s newest supermarket ready in time for this morning’s 7am opening. The mad dash to get the place finished has been disruptive for local residents, who have complained about lorries blocking access to the mews to the side of the building during the works.

Photo courtesy of Richard Clegg

Photo courtesy of Richard Clegg

Waitrose_window

Spit & polish…

Waitrose_hoover

Hoovering up the crumbs

Waitrose_flags

The store manager is now open

Jennifer Brown, Chair of the West Hampstead Women’s Centre, and Geoff Berridge of the West Hampstead Community Centre were there for the ribbon cutting. Waitrose West Hampstead will share £6,000 and 100 staff working hours a year between these two organisations and the C4WS Homeless Project.

Store manager Nicky Clifford-Goss, flanked by Jane Brown and Geoff Berridge and assorted staff (sorry, partners)

Store manager Nicky Clifford-Goss, flanked by Jane Brown and Geoff Berridge and assorted staff (sorry, partners)

The new store, which has taken over from Pizza Express (causing the buggy brigade to both fret and rejoice simultaneously), does not, unsurprisingly, have a fresh meat or fish counter. So, the Hampstead Butcher & Providores should manage to cling on to that business when it opens across the road in a week or so’s time. There is coffee though, out of a machine and free to myWaitrose card holders, and some seating outside at the front, which may not please West Hampstead’s café owners, despite Waitrose’s development director Nigel Keen stating that he welcomes the chance to “play our part in ensuring [West Hampstead] remains a vibrant village”.

Local resident and early-riser Mandira Bhimjiyani was excited by the new store. “I love a good Waitrose,” she said. “Any supermarket that thinks tiramisu is essential is ok with me.”

Inside, one quickly realised how rarely you see a fully-stocked supermarket. The shop seemed to have a reasonable range of products, including a few things for the anti-Waitrose brigade to mock, such as milk alternatives and the world’s pricest mac & cheese.

Full fat also available

An oddly precise price

An oddly precise price

Little Waitrose, as the retail chain’s convenience store format is branded, has been some time in the offing. It’s never entirely clear why the levels of reverence Waitrose elicits are directly proportional to the dislike heaped on its rivals – especially Tesco. Yes, it probably sells slightly better quality food but perhaps people are genuinely impressed that even though it’s a chain, it’s a chain owned by its employees. We wrote about the original John Lewis, whose son lived in Kilburn, back in May.

The store’s opening hours are 7am to 10pm daily. Deliveries – always a bane for local motorists – have been planned to cause less disruption than Tesco’s, though will be early for local residents.

Waitrose_lorry

Is it a posh hotel? A boutique? No, it's a Little Waitrose. Photo via @bubela

Is it a posh hotel? A boutique? No, it’s a Little Waitrose. Photo via @bubela

  • Andrew Winton

    I’m not sure whether such excitement about the arrival of a supermarket is a) the best thing to happen to WH in years, or b) a sign of the end of civilisation as we know it. Still at least Whampers can contribute to its facebook page at

    https://www.facebook.com/overheardinwaitrose

    My favourite (probably apocryphal) is the little boy who asks “Daddy, is the ‘t’ in Lego silent, like in Merlot?”

  • Simon Burrows

    I thought the Tesco delivery problems are caused by their noble but questionable agreement not to undertake deliveries at night? Doing so would reduce the traffic issues significantly in my opinion.

    • Yes, residents above Tesco objected to nighttime deliveries. Waitrose opted for the compromise of early morning rather than rush hour daytime/middle of the night. And I think will receive only two large deliveries a day vs. Tesco, which gives the impression of being almost constant. One shop of course is more likely to run out of food than the other!

  • Chris Dodds

    Tesco delivery lorries are now causing even more mayhem than usual as they obstruct the view of the traffic lights for the road works with predictably chaotic results