Like-for-like sales have stepped up a gear at Waitrose in the first seven weeks of the second half to 6% as the chain gears up for a bumper Christmas.

Unveiling an 11% jump in total sales to £1.3bn for the six months to July 26, and a 5% rise in like-for-like sales, Waitrose MD Steven Esom said Waitrose was increasingly regarded as a destination store for seasonal food shopping.

“We are back on TV in the run up to Christmas to drive home the message that if you want quality food, it’s worth making a trip to Waitrose. Sales last Christmas were up 15% on the previous year. We hope to beat that this year.”

Progress had been made to improve availability and reduce inventory on fresh by working closely with a smaller group of key suppliers, said Esom. Some suppliers were taking palletloads to Waitrose’s RDCs and then picking up goods in rollcages for onward delivery to stores, he added. “This started with a couple of suppliers but we want to roll it out.”

Between five and seven new stores will open next year including stores at Wandsworth, Kensington High Street and Newbury. Plans for a third RDC are on the backburner until there is a clearer view of which, if any, Safeway stores might come on the market, he added.
Elaine Watson