Waitrose was the shining star in the John Lewis Partnership half-year results this week. How is it continuing to grow, even in a recession?
Why is Waitrose performing so well? That may well be a question the other grocers are asking themselves.
And the answer – apart from the obvious gains from new stores – is because the developments Waitrose has launched over the past year have all been specifically tailored to their customer.
Waitrose has a unique positioning in the grocery market and while its managing director Mark Price points out it has continued to gain new customers this year, it’s the core group of loyal shoppers who are predominantly helping the grocer deliver strong results.
In terms of range, Waitrose has this year launched Essential Waitrose and coming in October is Duchy Originals from Waitrose. Both ranges fit perfectly well with the Waitrose customer.
Essential Waitrose – the grocer’s value range – allowed the Waitrose customer to trade down within the store when they felt the need to budget a bit more. They still wanted quality, but also wanted to watch the pennies, and the range allowed them to stay at Waitrose instead of trading down to another supermarket.
Duchy Originals from Waitrose will now target those shoppers who want to treat themselves, and have that bit more money to spend. It will also allow those customers who want to save money by not going out to restaurants to have a slap up meal at home.
The grocer has also launched a new range of homeware products on Waitrose.com in collaboration with John Lewis. The range is around 60-70% sourced from John Lewis and around 40% are unique to Waitrose.
New stores have also been plentiful for Waitrose, alongside the launch of convenience shops and service station shops. Both take the grocer into new areas, allowing its customers easier access.
But lest Waitrose get ahead of itself, Price is very focused on the customer. He maintains Waitrose is very focused on food and any new launch or development must be key to that.
Take non-food for example. We’re unlikely to see Waitrose.com launching digital downloads, or fashion – rather it will be complementary to the food offer. Price said his customers now view non-food items like kettles as a commodity and want an easy way to access those products. And they will either be delivered to store or to the customer’s home, with or without a Waitrose food shop.
Waitrose has delivered on many levels for its customers and they are clearly rewarding the grocer with their loyalty. Many analysts have said other grocers have lost their way with their core customers by branching off into too many diverse sectors, but it seems Waitrose has no plans to go down that road.