|Founder(s)||Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose, David Taylor|
|Headquarters||Bracknell, Berkshire, England|
|Number of locations||291|
|Area served||England, Scotland and Wales|
|Key people||Mark Price, Managing Director
Tom Athron, Finance Director
|Operating income||£173.5 million|
|Net income||£123.3 million|
|Owner(s)||John Lewis Partnership|
|Parent||John Lewis Partnership|
Waitrose Limited is an upmarket chain of British supermarkets, forming the food retail division of Britain's largest employee-owned retailer, the John Lewis Partnership. Its head office is in Bracknell, Berkshire, England. As of May 2013, Waitrose 291 branches across the United Kingdom , including 30 "little Waitrose" convenience stores, and a 4.9% share of the market, making it the sixth largest grocery retailer in the UK.
The company has a royal warrant to supply groceries, wine and spirits to Queen Elizabeth II and, as of 1 January 2011, to Prince Charles. It formerly held a royal warrant for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Founded in 1904 by Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor, Waitrose began as a small grocery store, Waite, Rose & Taylor, in Acton, West London. In 1908, two years after David Taylor had left the business, the name "Waitrose", from the remaining founders' names, was adopted. In 1937, the company, consisting of ten stores and 160 employees, was taken over by the John Lewis Partnership.
In 1955, the chain opened its first supermarket in Streatham, London and continued to expand throughout London and the South East of England during the 1960s. In the 1970s, Waitrose opened branches in Hampshire, Bedfordshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire.
Since 2000, Waitrose has continued its expansion, including purchasing stores from Somerfield, Morrisons, Woolworths, The Co-operative Group and Sandpiper CI, a move which saw the chain move into northern England and Scotland for the first time.
The firm signed a deal with Alliance Boots which will see Boots operating branded pharmacies in some stores; in return Boots stores will sell Waitrose food products. The partnership between the companies ended in 2012 having been deemed unsuccessful, which led to Boots replacing Waitrose products with items sourced from Irish retailer Musgrave's SuperValu chain.
In September 2009, Duchy Originals, the struggling organic food business started by Prince Charles was rescued by Waitrose, which has agreed to an exclusive deal to stock the range, and to pay a small fee to his charity. In return, Prince Charles has visited Waitrose stores, and dined with senior Waitrose executives and their spouses. In August 2010, the Duchy range was relaunched with many new lines under the Duchy Originals from Waitrose brand.
In October 2011, Waitrose opened a Fulfilment Centre in West London as part of its Waitrose.com Online Delivery Service. This allowed Waitrose to offer an online service to customers in London previously restricted due its commercial agreement with Ocado.
Advertising for Waitrose emphasises the chain's unique selling points. For example, its differences in production processes, emphasising the quality of products or the expertise of their partners (staff). Recent marketing has also attempted to portray the chain as more ethical than other supermarkets, especially with regards to Fairtrade produce.
Departing from earlier practice, the chain rebranded their entry level range of products as "essential Waitrose". The marketing of essential Waitrose centres around the tagline "quality you'd expect at prices you wouldn't". 1,600 new and existing products have been rebranded with this name using simple white-based packaging.
Waitrose donates a portion of its profits to a group of charities on a proportional basis, whilst individual Waitrose branches manage their own charitable donations and local decisions are made on which charities are to be supported. This is a system called 'Community Matters', where customers are invited to choose who they want money to be donated to.
The supermarket launched the Waitrose Foundation in 2005, providing funds for education, worker facilities and health services among other things for fruit growers in South Africa. This was expanded to Ghana and Kenya in 2009.
As part of the John Lewis Partnership, all of Waitrose's employees are assigned the title of Partner, co-owners of the business. As such, they receive certain benefits, most notably the Partnership bonus, usually around 10–20% of a Partner's yearly salary in a lump sum paid in March (the highest bonus percentage in recent years has been 22%). The annual partnership bonus for 2011 was 18%, and for 2012 was 14%. After three months service, Partners receive a green discount card which entitles them to 15% discount in Waitrose and 25% in John Lewis Department Stores on most goods. Due to lower margins, discount is 12% on some (mainly electrical) goods in the department stores.
In 2005, the business introduced a 'Mystery Shopper' programme to score its branches on the service they provide. The mystery shopper grades the branch on its presentation and on the service the branch provides at its service counters, checkouts, wine department and shop floor. In more recent times however, the unpopular mystery shopper programme is being phased out in favour of a customer feedback system called 'Measuring the Magic'. Customers are given a card which directs them to the Waitrose Experience website. In return for grading various areas of their shopping experience, customers are entered into a monthly £500 prize draw. The new system hopes to give feedback tailored to each instance of customer-partner contact, instead of being based on strict criteria.
The employee levels in core branches are: Non-Management Partner inclusive of other non-management roles such as Wine/Meat & Fish/Cheese Specialist, Fresh Produce Advisor, Customer Service Assistant (CSA) and Team Leaders. Management levels (ascending) are Assistant Section Manager (ASM), Section Manager (SM), Department Manager (DM) and Branch Manager (BM). In convenience branches the levels are in ascending order: Partner, Team Manager, Assistant Store Manager, Store Manager. Above BMs are ten area managers known as Head of Retail Operations (HoROs), and counterparts in Convenience. They work with a field team including Registrars who are impartial of management and seek to safeguard the constitution which underpins the Partnership. The HoROs report to the two Directors of Retail Operations (north and south), the director of retail and finally at the top, the managing director, Mark Price. Price reports to the chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Charlie Mayfield. Waitrose offers many different management courses, including the Retail Management Training Scheme (RMT) where people leaving school train to become section managers within two years, continuing to become department managers three years later and a Graduate Scheme which aspires to find the future "heads of" in branches and head office.
Waitrose also offers industrial placement schemes for students studying a 4-year sandwich degree. This gives them the opportunity to work in branches, leading up to a section manager role within the year. They also offer limited placements at their head office in Bracknell; this gives students experience in departments such as Buying, Marketing and Personnel.
Waitrose branches are largely concentrated in the south-east of England and in Greater London although this is now changing. Even as recently as 2003, its northernmost English branch was in Newark, Nottinghamshire, but the company's expansion northwards and into Scotland since the mid-2000s has changed this significantly – the most northerly Waitrose store is now located in Stirling, opened in January 2013. Outside major cities, stores are often located in smaller settlements between larger population centres, such as at Newport (sited between Telford and Stafford) and Kenilworth (between Leamington Spa and Coventry).
Waitrose stores vary considerably in size. For example, the smallest branch, little Waitrose Fitzroy Street, Cambridge, occupies 3,000 sq ft (280 m2) of retail space and the largest, Southend-on-Sea, over 56,000 sq ft (5,200 m2). The average Waitrose occupies a retail space of around 18,000 sq ft (1,700 m2).
Some Waitrose stores incorporate an in-house restaurant selling hot and cold food sourced in the main from the store. The "My Waitrose" card, which customers can obtain at the service counter or on line, offers a free medium-size cup of tea or coffee to the cardholder on every visit to the store. It is apparent that some visitors to the restaurant use it as a convenient place for a social or business meeting without necessarily purchasing at the store. Other Waitrose outlets have a Costa facility operated as a franchise from the parent company Whitbread.
Waitrose offers a self-service system known as 'Quick Check'. Customers must register to use the system and upon entering the store they insert a Partnership card into a reader and are then automatically issued with a hand-held PDA with built-in barcode scanner, allowing them to scan and pack items as they are taken from the shelf. Unpacked items from the produce and bakery departments can be self-weighed and labelled, and then scanned, at self-service scales located in their respective departments. The customer then pays the bill at the 'Quick Check' counter by returning the PDA to the cashier terminal, which rings up the total bill. With a Partnership or any other Credit or Debit card they can swipe this at a card reader and pay without any other assistance.
Internationally, Waitrose holds a licensing agreement with Spinneys of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which operate two purpose-built branches, of which the first opened in the Dubai Mall in October 2008.
Waitrose products are also supplied to Manx retailer Shoprite (Isle of Man). As well in the Falkland Islands it supplies to the Falkland Islands Company (FIC). In addition, it supplies its products to stores in Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Cyprus, Dubai, Falkland Islands, Grenada, India, Kuwait, New Zealand, Qatar, Tortola, Trinidad, Saudi Arabia and St Lucia.
Announcing its foray into the convenience sector in July 2008, Waitrose opened its first convenience store in Nottingham in December of that year. In September 2009, it was announced that a large-scale roll-out of the concept was planned, opening up to 300 stores in 5 to 10 years. The new arm will operate in a two-tier environment, with the majority of sites expected to trade from 2,500–3,000 sq ft and some trading from a larger 5,000–7,000 sq ft floor plate. A trial of a 'little Waitrose' fascia on smaller floor plate stores may yet lead to brand differentiation of some or all of the convenience estate.
As of 1 February 2012 there were 29 little Waitrose convenience stores.
Waitrose operates food halls in key stores of sister chain John Lewis. The stores are officially branded 'John Lewis Foodhall from Waitrose', and are run by Waitrose carrying many Waitrose own-brand product lines. The first John Lewis Food Hall opened at the flagship London Oxford Street department store in October 2007; a second opened at the Bluewater branch in August 2009.
There are six Waitrose Food & Home stores located in Bath, Cheltenham, Rushden, Salisbury, Southend & Meanwood with one Waitrose Food, Fashion & Home in Canary Wharf. Both types of store are large enough to offer a range of John Lewis products and have departments such as The Waitrose Studio, Sushi, Oyster, Salad & Juice Bars, Travel Agent, Dry Cleaning, Photo Processing or a Post Office.
In January 2000, the online food retailer Ocado was launched with the John Lewis Partnership as a principal supplier and part owner. The Ocado service is only available in certain areas of Britain. Ocado uses a central warehouse to service their deliveries. In November 2008, the John Lewis Partnership transferred its shareholding, then 29%, into its staff pension fund. It also agreed a five-year supply deal with the business, replacing its previous one year rolling deal. This deal was amended in 2010 to a ten-year agreement to supply products to Ocado. In February 2011, John Lewis Pension trust divested itself of its Ocado shares.
Waitrose operates its own delivery service, Waitrose.com (previously WaitroseDeliver), which is only available in certain stores, delivering goods ordered through the internet and serviced from the local branch. This service should not be confused with Ocado, which is a separate business. Waitrose.com also hosts the online ordering system for Waitrose's special order food and cakes service "Waitrose Entertaining" as well as ordinary online grocery shopping. Waitrose became the first supermarket to abolish all delivery charges as of May 2009.
Some stores also deliver after customers shop in store, branded as "Shop in branch, we deliver".
In October 2011, Waitrose opened a "Dotcom Fulfilment Centre" in Acton, West London, less than two miles from its original store. The store employs over 200 Partners and provides Waitrose internet food deliveries for most of west and central London from a dedicated site. The store, whilst not open to the public, is laid out in a similar manner to a regular store and even offers service counter lines, much like a normal Waitrose supermarket. London mayor Boris Johnson also visited the centre after it opened and said how he was impressed that partners were "dispatching orders with impressive speed and accuracy to customers across the capital.".
In 2013, it was reported that although Waitrose knew that pork was present in its frozen beef meatballs it did not let the Food Standards Agency or consumers know for two weeks after the discovery.
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