Waitrose will add a record number of products to its £1bn-sales Essential value range this year as the retailer seeks own-label growth.

The upmarket grocer will add 400 products to the 1,800-strong range, the biggest step up in pace since Essential launched with 1,400 lines in March 2009. A further 300 products will be improved this year.

New Essential Waitrose products will be launched across existing food categories and in new areas including further expansion into non-food categories.

Waitrose has already expanded the private label - which represents 18% of total sales - to include homewares since its launch four years ago.

Waitrose said 79% of shoppers purchase an Essential product.

Marketing director Rupert Thomas said: “We will continue to grow the range, underlining our promise to offer customers the best value without ever compromising on quality.”

Following the range’s launch Waitrose also introduced its Brand Price Match offer.

Launched in 2010, the scheme ensures the grocer offers identical prices on equivalent branded products sold at Tesco.

  • The grocer this week signed up the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister Pippa Middleton to write a column for its Waitrose Kitchen magazine.