Judging by the never ending crowds of Black River residents who flock to London Way Supermarket in La Preneuse, this is arguably the most popular supermarket in Black River.
Having recently expanded with a second floor supply storage to prepare for the increasing demand, London Way in La Preneuse seems to be more popular than ever.
With its somewhat remote location, compared to the rest of Black River supermarkets, The London Way supermarket in La Preneuse has faced little competition in the past.
It has succeeded in attracting the wealthy residential crowd from Black Rock, La Preneuse and Tamarin, as well as residents from La Gaulette and the surrounding communities. With its convenient location next to Royal Road in La Preneuse, and with its easy access parking area, London Way has been the king of Black River supermarkets for years.
This might soon change though – with the advent of the new Pick n Pay supermarket in Cascavelle near Flic en Flac, along with the recent opening of Shoprite Supermarket in neighbouring Tamarin.
We decided to pay a few visits and see how London Way cope with the newly arrived competition, and after a few days, we came back with mixed feelings.
Like previously mentioned, the access and parking is convenient, and there is an ATM right outside the store entrance for all you cash needs. The complex is also home to other conveniences, like a pharmacy and various small shops.
The supermarket store itself is large, brightly lit and very well stocked, even from a European perspective.
Along with fresh fish, charcuterie products and cheeses from all over the world, you will find everything from cooking gear to baby clothes at the back of the store, and the drinks section is home to a wide range of both local and imported wines, beers and spirits.
Prices tend to lean towards the upper range, especially for imported specialties like fresh Norwegian salmon, fresh Australian beef or European strawberries, just to name a few items. This, however, does not come as a big surprise, considering that the residents in the area belong to some of the wealthiest in all of Black River, many of whom are expatriates from (South) Africa, Europe and Australia.
The store is also home to an extremely popular take-away shop, selling pastries, pizza and other snack food, however, most people seem to come here for the classic London Way baguettes.
Dressed with mayonnaise and the optional piment vert, they come with various tasty fillings of local flavour – from sauté chicken to squid vindaye and a range of vegetarian alternatives – all at, may we say, unbeatable prices. Come early or stand in line!
Of course not everything is fine and dandy with everything the store has to offer, and there a few areas where London Way could improve to stay ahead of the competition.
Due to its extreme popularity, “London”, as the locals say, can feel a bit cramped at times, which obviously affects the parking area, but also tend to affect both the mood of the customers and the employees.
Although the staff is usually friendly, some seem to struggle with the English language, and the lack of a successful customer service training program is very evident during peak hours. We get a feel that the store manager is struggling to handle the large crowds – and rightly so, since the floor space is limited. There is some construction work going on in the building complex, and it looks like there is a plan to increase the floor space – something that would be much needed.
All in all though, London Way is a pleasant shopping experience, with an impressive range of products at competitive prices. You will probably not find a better stocked supermarket south of La Preneuse.
If the owners behind London Way want to stay ahead of the competition, we have a tip to the store manager: put a carefully designed customer service program in place! Adapt the flawless customer service found in Pick n Pay for example, and London Way would be hard to beat.