This week Liz and I were invited to Marks and Spencer to experience and afternoon as a VIP. We certainly were treated exceptionally, from the VIP area parking with complimentary car wash to the delicious food and (many) drinks we tried.
The afternoon was arranged and hosted by the Camberley Store Manager Darren Gray and members of his team. Our nearest branch of Marks & Spencer closed recently because of the town centre regeneration in Wokingham. Now our largest local store is the Camberley branch, which being out of town, has a huge and free carpark. Darren wanted to give us some background information about the store and introduce us to some of his team so that when we shop in Camberley it feels more like a small store with a personal service, but with all of the variety of a large store.
We were greeted with a glass of champagne, or for drivers a glass of freshly squeezed that morning orange juice. We had the opportunity to chat to some of the team before the event started. Once everyone arrived we were seated and handed a plate – it was a good job Liz and I hadn’t had lunch! We got to sample Canapés and Christmas goodies, including Pork Belly bites (our favourite), Cranberry and Brie Filo tarts and seafood shells to name a few. These were followed by a selection of salads (we loved the Duck and Hoisin) and then cheese and wine, including a delicious Chardonnay (I’m not usually a fan of Chardonnay but this was fantastic) and a red favourite Chateauneuf-du-Pape What we did realise as we tasted both the food and the wines was how knowledgeable the staff were, explaining about the dishes and which wines to put with them. So I would recommend if you aren’t sure what to buy when you are in store, ask one of the staff. The last little treat in this round of food was mini mince pies (beautifully buttery)
Next 5 departments “pitched” to us about their products and the service they offer and we had to be Dragons and decide which pitch won. First were 2 of the fashion team who showed a top worn two ways – bound to appeal to me 🙂 Then we had Lingerie with this beautiful collection from Rosie for Autograph, Liz fell for the snuggly but still incredibly chic dressing gown and I loved the satin pyjamas and the fact that they had pretty bras that go up to a G cup (hooray for us well endowed girls!)
Next was Boy’s Toys, including remote controlled cars, Drones and Wireless headphones as a few ideas for Christmas gifts. Homeware was up next talking about furniture and made to measure curtains as well as kitchen accessories and gadgets.
Last but definitely not least (it got my vote) was Beauty. We were shown the Beauty nativity calendar – out next Thursday – a must have because it is full of gorgeous beauty treats. It will be £35 with a £35 purchase, which is much less than many others on the market but still great quality. What I also liked was that the beauty team aren’t linked to any brand so they can be completely impartial about what they suggest for you. Again we were impressed with their knowledge and the product range, including cult brands like Rodial, Ren, This Works and Origins.
To finish the afternoon we were given coffee, cocktails or mocktails (alcohol free) and chocolates while we chatted to the team. We left with a Goodie Bag stuffed full of chocolates, Prosecco, a candle, lip balm, gift voucher, Christmas pudding and other mini samples. It really was a brilliant way to find out more about the store, get to know some of the staff and it really did give us the feeling of a small personal store rather than a huge faceless company.
Thank you so much Darren for inviting us and if you get a similar invitation jump at the chance and go along.