My Home Town – Walkden, Salford. 

My home town is a small area of suburban Salford called Walkden. It’s the place where I grew up and I have lived here all my life (with the exception of moving to Ormskirk for university for 3 years that is). I have seen a multitude of changes that has left the town centre virtually unrecognisable compared to how it looked 10 years ago.  I provide an insight into the regeneration of the town starting in the days of my childhood right up to the present day.  

The town once had a selection of stores that no longer have a presence on the high street, such as discount supermarket chain Kwiksave and the ill-fated Blockbuster, amongst others. In addition to this, there was once a thriving marketplace full of independent sellers although this slowly became less relevant as people began to turn to supermarkets which offered an alternative, more modern shopping experience that would later become the norm for many. Tesco had established itself in Walkden for many years, and the success of the store perhaps left independent sellers with no option but to cease trading. The indoor marketplace remained closed for a number of years, but has since made a comeback, providing Walkden with a dose of nostalgia, albeit to a lesser extent given the market now contains far fewer stalls than the original once had.

Between the years of 2000 and 2009, the town’s shopping centre began to show signs of age, and it was clear that the town was in need of serious regeneration. The centre had over the years seen several businesses close down, and the once thriving local cinema had been derelict for some time. The regeneration process began by relocating the Tesco supermarket into temporary premises whilst the process of demolishing existing buildings began. By around 2010-11, the construction of a new Tesco Extra store had been completed, and the temporary premises that were provided to Tesco had closed to make way for additional retail units to be constructed. The first and arguably the largest phase of the regeneration project had been completed. The Tesco Extra store began trading, which is apparently the largest of its kind in Europe. Along with the new Tesco store, the adjoining newly constructed shopping centre building which is attached to what is left of the original structure opened, and continues to grow to date, with stores such as B&M, Boots, JD Sports, Costa Coffee and Poundland amongst the tenants. 

Upon the completion of the second phase a few years later, a number of well known high street stores such as Aldi, Pets at Home and more recently M&S opened in Walkden town centre, and this provided the local area with a much needed boost in terms of choice available. Along with the aforementioned brands, discount retailer Quality Save has opened a large store in the centre adjacent to the Total Fitness gym which has been located in its current position since arriving in Walkden around 1997. Several food outlets have also opened on the retail park to accompany the already existing McDonalds, Subway and KFC stores, including Domino’s Pizza, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and to be opened soon is an Indian restaurant. 

Overall, it can be said that through regeneration and investment, Walkden has over recent years been brought up to a modern standard, making the town centre more aesthetically pleasing, as well as increasing employment opportunities. Many units remain vacant, but are slowly but surely being filled by new tenants. However, the abundance of food outlets and discount stores that are part of the retail park suggests that there is a lack of variety, with there being no clothing stores and a cinema for example, and until this issue is addressed, shoppers are left with no choice but to visit other areas of Manchester/Salford/Bolton in order to access certain facilities. For this reason, many locals including myself still see room for improvement.

Working in Retail

Stock Taking in Retail

There comes a time of the year that those working in the retail industry do not look forward to. No, I’m not talking about the build up to the Christmas period, but rather the dreaded stock take, which can be described as a task which needs to be completed annually or in some cases biannually in order to identify areas where a company is performing well in terms of sales, and conversely areas that can be improved upon or perhaps removed from sale if necessary. 

In my case, the company I currently work for is a budget supermarket chain which has several stores all over the UK and sells a wide range of items in various departments ranging from food and drink to furniture. I have worked for them on three separate occasions totalling in excess of 5 years, and so throughout the duration of my employment I have come to be largely familiar with the aspects involved in stock taking. The store is required to complete a stock take twice a year with dates set well in advance to ensure maximum staff attendance. This enables the stock take to be completed as efficiently as possible. So essentially, the quicker the task is completed, the earlier staff may go home. The actual conducting of the stock take requires hours of preparation in order for the process to run smoothly, with arrangements delegated to a member of the management team who on the day of the stock take is responsible for keeping track of the areas of the store that have been counted and scanned. 

What is required of staff members is that they are each given a sheet of paper which lists their assigned sections of the store and they are then expected to first of all locate the first section which is done by assigning a number to the relevant section, which can be checked off the member of management’s notepad which comprises of all the numbers of the sections that need to be counted. Once located, the staff member then signs their name at the beginning of the section and begins counting the stock which according to the rules, must be done from left to right starting in the top left hand corner, once an item of stock has been counted, the number of that particular item on the shelf must be written down and placed in front of the item so those who scan the count onto the system know how many of each item there are on the shelf. Each section contains three bays of stock and once counting of the section has been done, this can be signed off by the staff member who then informs the member of management the section has been counted and is now ready to be scanned onto the system. This process is then repeated until all sections of the store have been counted, checked off on the notepad and scanned into the system. However, checks are in place to randomly recount an item on a section to ensure the correct number on the shelf has been counted, and if the number is incorrect the section may need to be recounted to ensure accuracy. Once all sections have been completed, the clean up operation begins with staff members having to clean up any bits of paper/rubbish littering the shop floor, and ensure that the stock on the shelves is faced up in order for the store to be prepared and in a presentable condition for the following day’s trade. 

Today’s blog post has provided an insight into the processes involved within stock taking in my current workplace, and whilst processes differ depending on the type of business, the message that can be taken is that despite the task being somewhat tedious and repetitive, it is an essential part of working in a retail based environment to ensure maximum profits are being made. Additionally, it is appropriate to underline the importance of team work, as this in turn means that the stock take can be completed as efficiently, effectively and accurately as possible.