Further to The Grocer’s article about the launch of the new Waitrose concept in Bristol (The Grocer, August 23, p29), CACI has carried out a detailed assessment of the local potential for Waitrose in the first concept store.

CACI’s analysis reveals that Waitrose has been wise to choose the Westbury Park store in Bristol for unveiling the new look. The store offers a relatively safe test-bed, in the light of the relatively weak local competition and the loyalty of local shoppers to the Waitrose brand.

The catchment of the refurbished store stretches to the north-west of Bristol, drawing shoppers from the affluent metropolitan areas of Clifton and Redbury as well as the well-heeled suburban town of Westbury-on-Trym.

The store is ranked just inside the top half of the Waitrose estate based on grocery market potential. However, when combined with the strong demographic fit to the core Waitrose customer types, Waitrose should expect to perform even more strongly from this location.

The catchment has the stronger fit to the core ACORN profile of Waitrose than any of the major multiple retailers, with Sainsbury and Safeway trailing some way behind. So, it seems Waitrose is playing things rather safe by testing out new concepts among established fans.

The catchment has remarkably high levels of these high spending ACORN groups: affluent urbanites, town and city area: wealthy achievers, suburbia; and better-off executives, inner city areas.In all of these groups Waitrose has a greater penetration than any of its near rivals.

The increased focus on fresh food is likely to appeal to the affluent urbanites, with their consumption patterns biased towards expensive, quality items. Furthermore, the wealthy achievers and better-off executives have above-average consumption levels of chilled and quality prepared meals, also at the core of the new Laser II concept.

Waitrose draws 12% of the catchment expenditure, fairly healthy given the relatively small store is impacted on by three Sainsbury stores, two to the south and one to the north-east.

With Sainsbury continuing to focus on fresh and chilled, the two groups are fighting for the same customer group. CACI believes Waitrose is sure to boost its sales by focusing on the key requirements of its core customers, and will invariably draw customers from Sainsbury in the process. However, unless it gets a lot bigger, the impacts will always remain marginal.