Supermarket Chronicles Volume 1,
Chapter 4: Two Boxes Lean
Having a re-constructed store is all very well – the trouble is that with every plus side, there is a down side. Its a hard truth, time to live with it. And we do. Let me fill you in on the inside scoop. So its thursday the 19th of April 2007 and I’m up at 7. That’s about 2 or 3 hours too early. Either way its too early for work. Luckily for me it’s not a work day (or so I thought) you see today was the ‘reopening’ of sainsburys west hove. Now the joys of an opening ceremony are all very well until it becomes apparent that there is going to be a whole lot of customers for the rest of the morning. The first incling of this was when i nearly tripped over the queue that had been there THREE HOURS before it opened at 9 (or so I hear)… Don’t believe me? The local newspaper had evidence:
And that is genuinely my store. Crazy huh? Now you see the truth was that the refit had made the store look a lot nicer, but unfortunatly behind the fancy frills and spills, the reality was that we weren’t able to pile out the produce like we needed to.
The first rule of being a produce dude: Clear the Chiller
In summery, make sure that you get all the gear that is in the chiller, isn’t in the chiller by the end of the day. And that its piled up out on the shop floor and if that means that there is a mountain of taste-the-difference-tomatoes on the shop floor then it’s not the end of the world. Well it wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for one thing. Lean Store.
Falling into a hole out the back of the store all those weeks ago had revealed some certain things to me that i didn’t expect. I was expecting an ancient artifact or some burried treasure. Not so much. I don’t know if it was the dust in the air or if it was the bump i had no doubt obtained from somewhere over the weeks of work with the builders, but I had somehow thought that there was going to be something special under the flooring of the sainsbury’s warehouse – it really wasn’t. But what I did find made me realise something, something I never thought that I would ever come around to. You see the under-side of the floor was exactly how anyone would imagine the underside of an industrial building to look… gross…. But as i silently limped to a hiding place, it became apparent that it was a converted boiler room, converted into… well… an office. A very rubbish and smelly office. And there, sat in the corner was Cyda. He looked somehow hurt and stressed. You see he is in charge of something called Lean Store. A system that is universally dispised and hated amongst all produce staff everywhere and whereas before I would have been the first to blame Cyda – I realised that it wasn’t him. And that it was, instead, head office enforcing it upon her… I mean him.
Weeks later, i’d stopped blaming Cyda for Lean Store, but that didn’t mean I liked lean store…. nor did it mean that i kept to it. Far from it. Enter the produce rebellion.
In order to keep all the produce products flowing from the delivery to the chiller to the shop floor to peoples trolleys to peoples houses, we had to keep an important link strong… the chiller to the shop floor link. And as a result we had to take drastic measures to shift stock. No lean store system, builder, manager or customer was going to stop that from happening. We had ourselves a world war on our hands. Workers vs the Management. And things were about to get wild.
To be continued…
(more behind the scenes secrets in the next chapter)