Its headquarters are in Bracknell, England, UK. Although it mostly serves the UK, it has some overseas presence. By June 2010, Waitrose had 228 branches, a 4.3% share of the market, and was the UK's 6th largest grocery retailer1.
The company tries to differentiate itself through high quality food and customer service, and has the reputation for being more expensive and popular with the aspirational middle classes.
- Recently the essential Waitrose range was launched, to compete with other cut-price ranges, like Sainsbury's basics.
The company aims to open 400 UK branches by 2017 and to double its revenue to £8bn by 2016.
Founded by Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor in 1904, Waitrose began
life as a tiny grocery store, Waite, Rose & Taylor, in Acton, west London. David Taylor
left two years later, and in 1908 the name "Waitrose" was adopted. By 1937, the
company had 10 stores, 160 employees, and was taken over by the John Lewis
In 1955, Waitrose opened its first London supermarket, in Streatham. It continued to expand throughout London and the South East in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1981, fresh meat, fish and cheese counters were introduced, and in 1983, Waitrose became the first major supermarket to sell organic food.
In 2000, Waitrose purchased 11 stores from Sommerfield. In order for Morrisons to meet competition regulations, following acquisition of Safeway, it
had to sell 52 Safeway stores; 31 stores were sold to Waitrose by August 2005, taking the firm as far north as Durham.
In June 2008, Waitrose acquired four Woolworth's store in Battersea (Clapham Junction), Chiswick, Edgware Road (Marylebone) and Chapel Market, Islington. In January 2009, Waitrose acquired 13 sites from The Co-operative Group, and one (Melksham, Wiltshire) from Somerfield that opened 18 March 2010.
Waitrose has many plans for the future, the most significant of which is perhaps its desire to expand its presence in the convenience store sector.
Waitrose's delivery service, WaitroseDeliver is only available through certain stores, and delivers goods ordered through the Internet from those stores. The "other Waitrose delivery service", Ocado, is a separate business. WaitroseDeliver hosts the online ordering system for Waitrose Entertaining as well as online grocery shopping. Waitrose became the first supermarket to abolish all delivery charges in May 2009. Some Waitrose branches also deliver for customers shopping in-store, through the Waitrose Delivery Service. It's major competitors are Tesco Direct and ASDA Direct.
The chain introduced an entry level range of products, essential Waitrose, under the marketing tagline, "quality you'd expect at prices you wouldn't". The essential range includes 1,400 new and existing products and uses simple, mostly-white, packaging - with a smattering of "Waitrose green". This follow the pattern of other cheap ranges, like Sainsbury's basics, which tends to use orange-on-white. (On a personal note, I have greatly enjoyed many essential Waitrose products - for instance, whole nut peanut butter, yoghurt, muesli, chunky frozen vegetables, and oven chips.)
Waitrose operates food halls in many stores of sister chain John Lewis. The first John Lewis Food Hall opened in the London Oxford Street department store in October 2007; a second at Bluewater in August 2009. In some locations, like Milton Keynes, the chains operate stores in close proximity making a John Lewis Food Hall redundant.
In Jan 2000, the online food retailer Ocado was launched with the John Lewis Partnership as principal supplier and part owner, but only in certain areas of the UK. In Nov 2008, the John Lewis Partnership transferred its shareholding into its staff pension fund and agreed a five year supply deal.
In April 2009, Waitrose announced plans for its first ever franchise deal with leading motorway services operator, Welcome Break. This led to the two smallest ever Waitrose stores opening in Welcome Break motorway service areas, creating 50 jobs. The stores offer close to 1000 lines and operate from 7am until 10pm, 365 days a year. One shop is at Oxford Services on the M40, the other at South Mimms on the M25. In addition to sandwiches, ready meals, salads and drinks, customers can get basic food stuffs like bread and milk.
In November 2009, Waitrose began selling convenience products at six Shell Petrol Stations in Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Derby and Leicester, including sandwiches, wraps & snacks, bread, pasta, ready meals and toiletries.
Waitress now allow Boots to sell pharmacy, health and beauty products through Waitrose stores; and Boots can sell Waitrose food products.
In September 2009, Duchy Originals, the organic food business started by Prince Charles, was rescued by Waitrose, who agreed to an exclusive deal to stock the range, and pay a small fee to charity. In return, Prince Charles has dined with senior Waitrose executives. Duchy range was relaunched with many new lines under the Duchy Originals from Waitrose brand.
Waitrose has acquired five supermarkets in the Channel Islands, two on Guernsey and three on Jersey, from Sandpiper CI. They had already been supplying the stores with thousands of Waitrose own label products. The stores will be rebranded Waitrose in 2011.
Spinneys of Dubai, United Arab Emirates now operate two Waitrose branches; the first opened in the Dubai Mall in October 2008.
Advertising for Waitrose emphasises the quality of products, the expertise of partners
(staff), and ethical sourcing. For instance they sell many Fairtrade and free
range products. But other supermarkets have caught up on many of these issues.
Morrisons stress quality and expertise by pointing out that, for instance, butchers create
meat products in-store. Sainsburys now also make heavy use of Fairtrade products
and blazon this across packaging.
In March 2010, Waitrose released adverts featuring celebrity chefs Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal. The difference between these chefs, one a football supporting representative of the "broad middle", the other an 'out there' technocrat with an upper-crust restaurant, perhaps reveals the struggles Waitrose are having in trying to create a corporate identity. Are they the supermarket for the average housewife in the broad middle, or are they shooting for the pink-pound and the aspirational nouveau-riche?
Waitrose donates some profits to different charities, whilst individual Waitrose stores make their own charitable donations under a 'Community Matters' banner. Under this scheme, customers can decide which charoty they want money to be donated to. Until recently, my local store had a scheme whereby a customer was give a green counter and then they had to decide into which bucket to place the counter, given a choice of three charities.
- As if the weekly shop were not stressful and time-consuming enough!
difficult enough finding & deciding which products to buy without making
decisions about charitable donations at the same time. Surely such decisions are
best left to another time, and at the choosers convenience? Why should a
supermarket enforce charitable decision making? It's enough to drive one to shop
at Sainsburys, and (in my case) it did, for a time! Thankfully my local Waitrose seem to
have suspended this scheme...
The Waitrose Foundation was launched in 2005, providing funds for education, worker facilities and health services for fruit growers in South Africa. Waitrose' provide many organic vegetable varieties.
Waitrose employees are part of the John Lewis Partnership; they are called Partners to indicate that they are co-owners. Partners receive several benefits, including:
- A yearly bonus of around 15% of salary.
- A discount card entitling them to discounts of up to 25% on many goods in Waitrose and John Lewis Department Stores.
- John Lewis's store credit card, the 'Partnership Card'.
Waitrose gets 'Mystery Shoppers' to score branches on service and presentation, and runs training programs for its Partners.
- core branches: Partner, sponsor, specialist, third hand, assistant section manager (ASM), section manager (SM), department manager (DM) and branch manager (BM).
- convenience branches: Partner, team leader, assistant store manager, store manager.
- Above BMs are ten area managers ( Head of Retail Operations - HoROs), working with Registrars. Registrars don't do everyday management, they try to safeguard the constitution underpinning the Partnership
- Two regional directors (north and south), the director of retail and, at the top of Waitrose, the managing director.
At the time of writing the managing director is Mark Price, who reports to the chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Charlie Mayfield.
Waitrose offers management courses, like the Retail Management Training Scheme
(RMT) for school leavers hoping to become section managers within two years, and
department managers three years. On their Graduate Scheme you can become a department
manager within two years.
Waitrose offers industrial placement schemes for students studying 4 year sandwich degrees, allowing them to work in stores and become a section manager within the sandwich year. Limited placements are also available at Bracknell head office giving experience in Buying, Marketing and Personnel.
Waitrose branches are concentrated in south-east England, especially the greater London area. There are only three branches in south-west England, two in the West Midlands, five in Wales, twelve in the north of England, and three in Scotland. In Scotland, two stores are in Edinburgh, and the other is at heart of Glasgow's trendy west-end on Byres Road.
If, say, you live in Scotland, but not in the two big cities, then don't dismiss the possibility of a visit to Waitrose. For instance, Byers road in Glasgow is an easy hop from both main rail stations on the tube, and it's a great place to centre a day out. Byers road is near one of Europe's great art galleries (Kelvin grove), the superb Botanical Gardens, and Glasgow University. It's also the centre of Glasgow's lively west-end pub scene.
Whereas rivals Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons have implemented self-service checkout terminals, Waitrose offers a 'Quick-Check' system, for which Customers must register. On entering the store customers are given a PDA containing a barcode scanner that allows them to keep a running total of the bill that can be quickly paid at the 'Quick-check' counter. Personally I've never been tempted to use this system and have rarely seen anyone else using it. Waitrose checkouts, at least in my local store, always seem to be well staffed and you never have to wait long.
I like the self-checkouts used by Waitrose's rivals. But maybe that's only because I'm fascinated by how they go wrong in interesting ways. The average customer might not be so happy!
|In 2007 Waitrose had a 4% share of the food market, up 0.1% from 2006, 18% of the organic food market, 10% of the fish market. The members of the Guild of Fine Food retailers have expressed concern that Waitrose is competing too heavily with quality independent grocers and farmers' markets.|
- Fresh - Multiple Retailer of the Year
- Which? - Best High Street Retailer for Customer Service
- Verdict Research - UK's Favourite Retailer
- Fresh - Multiple Retailer of the Year
- Fresh - Best Business Initiative
- Seafood Awards - Seafood Multiple Retailer of the Year
RSPCA - Best Animal Welfare Practice
- Decanter World Wine Awards - Best Wine Supermarket
- Verdict Research - UK's favourite supermarket
- UKCSI - UK's top food retailer for customer service
- The company supplies groceries, wine and spirits to Queen Elizabeth II through a Royal Warrant.
- Waitrose sponsor Reading F.C.
1. Waitrose, 10 Nov 2010, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
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