Skip to main content

More counter staff and new café concept part of Booths revamp

Posted: 29 May 2024

By Greg Pitcher

Booths café

Booths is rolling out two initiatives – a new café concept and boosting the number of counter staff – designed to improve customer experience at its upmarket food stores.

The independent chain grocer – often dubbed the Waitrose of the North – will open a third new-look café in August and put counter staff at all outlets through a Cheese Academy from September.

Booths has already launched its Café 1847 concept at its Hesketh Bank and Clitheroe stores and plans to unveil one in Knutsford later this summer.

Referencing the year the company was founded, the new dining areas are designed to “completely revamp” eat-in spaces with “elegant” and “tranquil” formats.

Booths said it had introduced quality flooring, crockery and tables that harked back to its teahouse past and added “charm and authority” to the cafés.

Counters have become central and visible to add “theatre” and showcase the grocer’s produce.

Booths undertook extensive training and recruitment ahead of launching the cafés, with a focus on staff being “friendly and efficient but never stuffy or overbearing”.

Meanwhile the company is also revamping the way it educates counter staff.

The Booths Cheese Academy will cover topics from commercial acumen to display principles as well as tasting, product knowledge and how to provide a great customer experience.

The three-month training programme will include visits to cheesemakers and tasting sessions led by suppliers and buyers.

Six stores are piloting the initiative, which is set for rollout across all outlets in the autumn.

Learning and development specialist Simon Hetherington said: “At Booths, we’re dedicated to delivering great experiences on our counters. We are at the start of creating a Cheese Academy that’s designed to provide our colleagues with the knowledge and skills to delight our customers.

“This builds on the successful work we’ve done in our butchery and fish academy training programmes to ensure our colleagues at Booths are good grocers, knowledgeable, skilled and full of enthusiasm for great food.”

Booths hospitality trading manager Sunil Chapanery added: “Café 1847 is a complete revamp of how we run our cafés, the new space is elegant and welcoming, and we want customers to feel special the moment they arrive.”

 The grocer made a pre-tax loss of £4m in the 12 months to 1 April 2023, having posted a £3m profit the prior year. Directors blamed “trading conditions” for the plunge into the red, noting living wage and energy costs. 

This article first appeared in the June 2024 edition of Fine Food Digest .