EXCLUSIVE: First look inside Aylesbury’s new Waitrose

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Waitrose will open its doors to Aylesbury shoppers at 8am on Thursday – and we’ve been given a sneak preview of what’s in store.

The £18 million Waterside development, which also includes Travelodge, was originally due to be finished a year ago and staff are excited to welcome shoppers after such a long wait.

To reward the early birds, the first three customers through the doors will be given free champagne and flowers.

Finishing touches are still being put on the Exchange Street supermarket, including landscaping along the front, but store manager Rose Lawrence says everything will be done in time for the opening.

She said: “We cannot wait to open our doors on Thursday and become a real part of the Aylesbury community.”

The supermarket includes a hot food counter and a café.

One feature in the Aylesbury store not seen in a Waitrose before is the system for sorting wine.

Special towers have been built and each display will have boards explaining how the wine is made, where it comes from and interesting facts about suppliers, all to help turn wine novices into connoisseurs.

When jobs at Waitrose were first advertised there was a huge rush to sign up, with more than 1,300 people applying for 165 available positions.

In addition to these, the store has taken on two apprentices for the year.

Ms Lawrence said: “The apprentice scheme is designed to get young people into work.

“The intention is that by the end of the first year we will make them permanent and then they can start moving onwards with their career.”

Emily Elkins-Jarrett, 24, and 16-year-old Maisy Whittington were the lucky two chosen to be this year’s apprentices.

Ms Elkins-Jarrett said: “Hopefully I will get the retail qualification and then I would like to stay with Waitrose and hopefully move up and further my career.”

Ms Whittington has joined just after doing her GCSEs.

She said: “Hopefully this will give me some good qualifications and then go from there.”

FACTS ABOUT THE STORE

> 1,300 applications for the 165 local jobs created in the area.

> Almost £1m will be generated in wages and bonuses at the new branch.

> 250 hours per year - the number of hours of Partners’ time that will be donated to local causes

> £12,000 per year - the amount donated to local causes nominated by customers through its Community Matters scheme

> 21,000 - the size of the shop floor in sq. ft.

> 295 car parking spaces

> 261 trollies

> 64 Quick check handsets

> 2,552 hours of staffing to get the branch ready for opening

> 26 lorries will deliver to the branch to fill the shop before Thursday

> 10,752 sq. ft. of shelves