• Waitrose stops paying overtime and Sunday rates to new employees
  • Grocer insists cuts are not linked to the introduction of the national living wage
  • The supermarket launches online in China today through Alibaba’s Tmall website

Waitrose has axed premium pay rates for new staff working Sundays and overtime as it unveiled plans to sell goods in China through Alibaba.

Waitrose, which scrapped its overtime and Sunday rates for new employees in February, said the cuts were intended to bring it in line with its competitors and were not linked to the living wage, according to the Daily Mail.

A spokesman for the grocer said: “Changes to premium pay for new starters is separate to national living wage implementation and was planned before the living wage was announced.”

Waitrose, which has 58,000 employees, pays its supermarket assistants £7.80 an hour, 60p above the living wage requirement of £7.20 for employees aged 25 and over.

The supermarket joins retailers including Tesco, Morrisons and B&Q in making cuts to its pay and staff benefits following the introduction of the living wage.

Waitrose has also partnered with Alibaba to sell products through its Tmall website, with the grocer predicting it will become its biggest international market within the next five years.

An initial 30 products including biscuits, tea, coffee, cereals and nuts will be available from the Waitrose offer on the Royal Mail’s Tmall store, with more lines set to be added shortly after today’s launch.

Waitrose commercial director Mark Williamson said: “The potential for Waitrose in China is huge and although it’s a relatively modest start it’s our ambition to see it become our biggest international business in the next three to five years.”