Waitrose is to make a major play for the convenience market, and has embarked on a partnership with Boots UK to sell select product ranges in each others’ stores.

Waitrose, which last week reported operating profit up 18.7% for the half year to August 1, will trial convenience shops of 2,000 sq ft to 4,000 sq ft next year. The upmarket grocer has already opened four convenience shops of around 5,000 sq ft to 7,000 sq ft, and now wants to expand its presence further.

The John Lewis Partnership-owned grocer said the smaller convenience format gives it the potential for 300 further shops.

Waitrose and Boots UK already have a commercial relationship and are in discussions to trial the sale of selective product ranges in each others’ stores. This will see Boots support Waitrose with healthcare and wellbeing ranges and Waitrose support Boots with a range of food.

The two retailers will also re-brand the Boots UK-owned pharmacies in 13 Waitrose shops to “Boots Pharmacy”.

Waitrose will also roll out nine further Welcome Break stores – the first three of which are planned to open in November.

Waitrose managing director Mark Price said: “We’ve broadened the appeal of our brand with innovations like Essential Waitrose, the ‘Seriously…’ range of indulgent cakes and desserts, Duchy Originals from Waitrose, new non-food ranges, and by being the first UK supermarket to get rid of delivery charges for online grocery shopping – and we’re seeing real sales momentum as a result.

“Now, by opening up these new channels and formats, we’ll be making Waitrose accessible to more customers in more places and we’ll be able to create thousands of new jobs.

“We’ve just reported a robust first half of the year and with continued strong performance from our existing stores and this move into the convenience market, we’re planning for double digit growth for the foreseeable future.”