Waitrose seeks direct agency

Supermarket appoints The Haystack Group to draw up shortlist for customer relationship strategy.

Waitrose is looking for a direct marketing agency to develop a customer relationship marketing strategy.

The upmarket supermarket has appointed The Haystack Group to conduct the review. The matchmaker has approached a longlist of agencies and is in the process of compiling a shortlist.

Waitrose, which does not currently work with a direct marketing agency, is thought to be looking for an agency with a strong creative reputation. It wants to investigate using data from its parent company, the John Lewis Partnership, to leverage the Waitrose brand.

The decision to look for a direct agency follows a series of changes in Waitrose's agency relationships in the past year. Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy picked up the advertising business in November, when it merged with How, the agency launched by Ken Hoggins and Chris O'Shea in 2004.

In June, Manning Gottlieb OMD was appointed to handle Waitrose's media after a pitch against Media Planning Group, MindShare, Vizeum and Universal McCann. The account was previously with Brand Connection.

Clark McKay & Walpole currently handles direct marketing for the John Lewis Partnership's card and its financial services products following a pitch against Burkitt DDB, WWAV Rapp Collins, Elvis and Pepper.

Lowe won the department store's £15 million creative account last month after a pitch involving Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners and the incumbent, Burkitt DDB.