Waitrose lifts food sales by 4% and pushes home value and top-tier

New Little Waitrose format

New Little Waitrose format

Waitrose’s sales increased by 9.8% to £4.97bn in the year ending 29 January 2011 with a like-for-like increase of 4% in food. Operating profit increased by 3% to £274.9m.

Waitrose said it had attracted on average around  300,000 new weekly customers by investing in value, top-tier ranges, new space and new formats.

On value, Waitrose boosted its position with the launch in September of its brand price match, a commitment to price match Tesco on 1,000 branded products, which sits alongside the Essential Waitrose range.

Waitrose said its campaign featuring Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal as brand ambassadors had helped generate £50m in incremental sales.

The retailer said the launch of the UK’s first supermarket cookery school in November 2010 underlined its commitment to quality cooking.

The online business has gone from strength to strength, Waitrose said, and is poised for further growth as it moves onto a new technology platform, and within the M25 without restriction from July this year.

During the year, 20 branches were opened during the year plus three relocations, representing 253,000sq ft or 5.7% of selling space.

Nine of these new shops are in the convenience format, including three in the new small convenience format. Five shops were acquired in the Channel Islands. The first opened in Jersey last month, and is reported to be trading successfully. The first branch in Guernsey opens tomorrow (10 March 2011).

Waitrose said its stores at Welcome Break service stations outlets are performing ahead of expectations and two more are planned later this month; and its trial with Boots was “encouraging”.