Waitrose is taking on M& S in the run-up to Christmas with the launch of a 30-strong range of packaged meat and fish products under the Easy banner.
Speaking as Waitrose posted a 6.4% rise in sales to £1.4bn in the half-year to July 31, Waitrose MD Steven Esom said the range had been developed after careful research into Waitrose’s
customers and those of other retailers. He added: “This is a very contemporary, straight to the table range for people with the confidence to cook steaks, easy carve joints and so on.
“Our expertise on fresh is a key point of difference, especially at Christmas when we come into our own as a destination store.”
Next year will see a big push on Waitrosedeliver, the store-based online shopping operation, said Esom.
“Obviously our focus at the moment is on converting the Safeway stores we have just acquired, but after that we will be looking to a roll out.”
Half of the 19 Safeway stores acquired from Morrisons had now been converted, he added, with the rest to follow by the end of November.
The new depot in Bardon, Leicester, was currently being used as a backup facility before coming onstream as a fully-fledged RDC in April.
A new warehouse management system and ordering system had also boosted availability, he said.
Like-for-like sales were up 3.7% in the first half and 3% in the first six weeks of the second half, extremely encouraging given the tough comparatives and background food price deflation, he said.
Elaine Watson