Waitrose recently boosted its selling space by 20% with the acquisition of 18 Safeway stores and one Morrisons store, and suppliers are being asked to “share some of the pain in order to realise the opportunity”.
One supplier said: “There has been a certain hardening of attitude from Waitrose lately, although it is not in the same league as some of the others.
“It’s certainly not bullyboy tactics - it’s just that the market is getting tougher. It is basically negotiating what the 19 new stores are worth.”
Another supplier added: “Waitrose is becoming more demanding and more aggressive with the acquisition of these Safeway stores.”
The comments came as the first Safeway store to be converted to a Waitrose opened in Sandbach on Thursday.
Waitrose said suppliers were being asked to “help Waitrose make the most of the opportunity for us and them”. A spokesman added: “The 20% increase in trading area is an excellent opportunity for Waitrose and its supply base.
“This does not just mean we can source from new small scale suppliers we haven’t been able to reach before.
“It also means that at the other end of the spectrum our fmcg branded supplier base can gain excellent additional volume opportunities.”