Waitrose to expand into convenience shops

Waitrose, the upmarket supermarket, has announced plans to expand into the convenience market and has pledged to open 20 new Little Waitrose outlets within the M25 by the end of 2012.

Waitrose: readies the opening of its 'little' store on Tottenham Court Road
Waitrose: readies the opening of its 'little' store on Tottenham Court Road

The expansion follows the trial of the sub-brand Little Waitrose at the Waitrose store on Old Brompton Road in South Kensington, which opened in January.

The expansion into the convenience market puts Waitrose head to head with Marks & Spencer and its Simply Food smaller stores, and comes as Waitrose ramps up its online ordering offering in competition with Ocado.

So far this year, Waitrose has opened one full-size supermarket and five convenience stores in London. The next Little Waitrose will open on Tottenham Court Road in central London this week.

The launch marks the largest number of branches that Waitrose has opened in London in a year, and will create up to 1,000 jobs, according to a company spokesperson. The first Waitrose opened in Acton, west London in 1904.

Mark Price, Waitrose, managing director, said: "London is an important part of our heritage, so this is another exciting milestone for our business.

"It demonstrates our ambition to continue increasing our presence and improving our accessibility to those who wish to shop with us."

Waitrose has also pledged to build two new full-size supermarkets in Wimbledon and Stratford, and five convenience shops, which a spokesman for Waitrose said will create 600 jobs, by Christmas.

Over the past six years, Waitrose has taken major steps to increase its presence throughout the UK, but of its 257 existing stores, more than a quarter are within the M25.

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