The new nationwide online shopping service from Waitrose and Last Mile Solutions is set to launch in the next few weeks. Products will be sourced from existing Waitrose suppliers nationwide and delivered from a new central warehouse in Hatfield. The service will initially be available only in the south of England. But LMS managing director Roger Whiteside said: "We plan to open a further six warehouses in the next few years depending on customer response. "We are serious about taking Sainsbury and Tesco on ­ and have an advantage over them in that that we won't suffer store based problems." LMS has already recruited 60 employees and set up a fleet of lorries as it gears up for the launch. The new online service will not impact on Waitrose's current online operations ­ Waitrose Deliver and Waitrose@work, according to Whiteside. He said: "The new online grocer will pick up areas which are not covered by Waitrose store operations, or those stores where space is too tight to allow home delivery. It will be a complementary service." The Waitrose Deliver home shopping scheme is currently being trialled from Waitrose branches at Abingdon, Oxfordshire; Buckhurst Hill, Essex; Petersfield, Hampshire; and Stevenage, Hertfordshire. The service is to be rolled out to further stores in the second half of the year. - Waitrose director of selling and marketing Mark Price has warned that profits will be down at John Lewis this year, due to a heavy investment and refurbishment programme. But he said expectations for Waitrose remained high. Sales from Waitrose@work had gone up 20% since 2000 as basket size increased, he added. {{NEWS }}