Sarah Sharp, Branch Manager Waitrose Cobham
Waitrose in Cobham is one of the area’s key focal points – a retail monument, if you will. And, following the recent refurb, the Grosvenor Surrey team thinks it looks exceptional. So, to welcome in the new look and introduce you to the person responsible for the recent overhaul, meet Branch Manager Sarah Sharp, who met with us as part of our ongoing Elmbridge Icons series.
Retail wasn’t my original plan. I actually did a geography degree in Southampton, but ended up joining Waitrose as part of a graduate intake programme in 2005.
They invited me to an assessment centre, which my dad very kindly drove me to (and picked me up from). As soon as I left the building, I knew I wanted to work there. The people were so nice and friendly. And the opportunities to progress were fantastic. So, I went for it.
It took me five years to gain my first branch manager position, which is very quick. I was also the youngest person at that time to have been given a branch manager position, so it was very exciting.
I’ve now been a branch manager for 13 years, having worked across many stores including Esher, Banstead and New Malden. But Cobham’s the one that everyone wants, as the area, the people and the location are all fantastic.
Cobham’s also a great location for my family, particularly as my two children attend schools in Bookham and West Horsley.
Waitrose Cobham gets 20,000 people through the door every week and there’s 130 people working here, so it’s important that it looks and feels right for everyone. And this is one of the reasons behind the refurb, which the whole team is delighted with.
People often ask me what I’d do if I wasn’t doing this. The truth is that I really don’t know. After 18 years of working for the same company you kind of become institutionalised – although as far as institutions go, Waitrose is a great one to be a part of.
Thankfully, though, my eyes have been opened to new retail experiences without me needing to change jobs, having recently been appointed Chair at One Cobham. Waitrose is the largest contributor to the One Cobham pot, so when I was invited to take on the position, and then subsequently voted in, I couldn’t refuse.
For me, One Cobham is all about ensuring that Cobham, as a village, continues to be successful – and that the money we’re responsible for is invested in the right areas. And, on a personal level, I would like my children to be able to get their first jobs in the area.
Also, the beauty of One Cobham is that it’s inclusive. It doesn’t just hit the mark for some people; it works for all.
Between running the Waitrose store, handling pay management for the wider Waitrose business, chairing the Waitrose southern region, chairing One Cobham and running a family, there’s little time for much else. But I’m a keen runner and I love yoga, so I’ll try and do that when I can.
For now, though, we’re all looking forward to the Waitrose customer evening, which takes place between 6 – 9pm on 14th December. Everyone’s invited and there will be plenty of food and drink tastings, as well as the Elmbridge Choir, who’ll be singing inside the store for the whole event.
We hope to see you there.
Waitrose Cobham. 16 Between Streets, Cobham KT11 1AF