Waitrose is still considered by many to be far and away Britain's poshest multiple retailer.

Despite a strong store roll-out programme, which saw it expand into Scotland for the first time earlier this year, it has maintained its reputation for top quality nosh and responsible sourcing.

"Waitrose has a superb range, fantastic quality and brilliant staff," said an enthusiastic Paul Clarke, national director of Barclays' retail and wholesale team.

Sales were up 11% to a record £1.8bn in the six months to 29 July. Profits also rose to £108m and the chain will have 186 stores open by the end of the year.

In conversations with farmers it is regularly cited as the fair benchmark on prices, with dedicated milk and meat supply arrangements. It has also led the charge on responsible sourcing, boasting high animal welfare, sustainable growing and a top range of organic, free-range and Freedom Food accredited lines.

Despite its reputation for high end food and modern stores, Waitrose is trying to dump the luxury label. It is trying to emphasise its good value on everyday products, supported by price checking more than 350 goods a week.

Location: UK, national

Established: 1904

No. of stores: 184

Fact: Waitrose has its own farm - the 4,000-acre Leckford Estate