Waitrose will introduce hundreds of new premium products over the next year as it aims to maintain the growth achieved since the introduction of budget range Essential Waitrose.

The retailer wanted to dominate the market for quality food, said commercial director Richard Hodgson, adding that it would start to gradually introduce "new types of cuisine" in ambient, chilled and fresh formats during this year and 2010.

"Essential Waitrose has played a role at the bottom end, but most of our growth is coming at the top end," he claimed. "Meats, wine, and our range of cheese have gone from strength to strength and we are seeing fantastic growth in premium pre-packed cheeses and patisserie lines. People are treating themselves, I guess."

Growth at Waitrose over the past three months has been nearly twice that of the market, with sales up 10.2% [TNS 12w/e 8 August] compared with 5.6% for the grocery market overall.

Demand for premium products from people dining in instead of going to restaurants was a strong trend, Hodgson said. That was why the next phase of Waitrose's development was more luxury ranges, he explained.

"A lot of the focus in the past 12 months has been around Essential Waitrose. But the pipeline is full of some stunning products at the mid and top-end across all categories," he added.

However, the new ranges will not increase the number of SKUs, and it is understood the retailer is looking at how to cut out existing products.

"In certain branches we carry products we don't need, and our challenge is to identify which lines offer true customer choice and which lines are duplicating what is already available," said Hodgson.

In May Waitrose opened motorway service station branches with Welcome Break. Hodgson said these were exceeding expectations, adding that the retailer was "looking at how appropriate it would be to scale it up".