paul walker waitrose

Paul Walker joined Waitrose as a management trainee in the 1980s

Paul Walker, Waitrose’s fresh foods buying director, is retiring from the supermarket after 31 years.

He will step down from the role on 19 October ahead of starting his retirement in 2019, after taking on the buying director role in October 2017.

Walker became responsible for the entirety of Waitrose’s fresh category last year after its then-director of buying, Heather Jenkins, retired. This meant he oversaw buying of its fruit, veg and horticultural produce, meal solutions, bakery and food-to-go lines, as well as additional areas such as meat, poultry, fish, frozen food and dairy, and Waitrose’s agricultural strategy.

He joined the upmarket retailer in the 1980s as a management trainee before becoming part of its buying team, where he progressed through a number of roles, such as assistant buyer, buyer, central buyer, head of buying, and director responsible for fresh foods.

Walker’s successor will be announced later in the year following a recruitment process.

Waitrose said Walker was renowned in the retail and grocery industries for his expert knowledge in food, his understanding of the industry, and “instinctive ability” to develop and source high-quality products.

“Paul has been a wonderful colleague, with a unique combination of commercial, product and people skills,” said Waitrose commercial director Rupert Thomas. “I am immensely grateful to him for his tremendous contribution to our business.”