Waitrose sales have been lifted by its value range as cash-strapped shoppers seek out lower prices in the recession.

The grocer launched Essential Waitrose in March – its first ever value range – to counter perceptions that it was more expensive than its rivals on everyday items.

Waitrose managing director Mark Price told The Financial Times that sales of the range are running well ahead of the retailer’s projections.

Howver, he added that the relabelling of products and the reduction in price could cost the grocer more than the £25m it had planned to invest in the cost cuts.

Price said despite financial pressure, shoppers “still want to eat good-quality food”.

He added that purchases of the 800-line range now account for 13 per cent of sales. Waitrose expected sales to account for 15 per cent by October, when all 1,400 Essential products will be on sale.

In the week to June 12, sales of the repriced and repackaged lines were up between 20 and 60 per cent. Price said the range has also lifted the grocer’s overall sales, with sales increasing 10 per cent year on year each week in the last month.