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After a third of a century with the Partnership, Mark Price, Waitrose’s charismatic, innovative, talented and hugely likeable leader, has decided to explore pastures new. Price has achieved a huge amount with Waitrose and his decision to leave is one that merits at least a few reflective words.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Waitrose under Price is how the business has evolved into something never-more relevant to an increasing number of shoppers through a period of enormous structural change and challenge. To characterise that market in a few words: it has been a time of root and branch shock to the big four superstore groups with the advance of the discounters, the steady progression in online penetration, revolution of convenience retailing and the rise of Waitrose and one or two other premium players.

Throughout this time, Waitrose has reinforced its presence in its Home Counties heartland and reached out geographically. It is now set to good and popular effect in Northern England and Scotland (and the Channel Islands). It has more than 60 convenience outlets with Little Waitrose, and has a fast-growing online capability including the Coulsdon dark store as a tool to take on the London online market. The group’s products are also exported to nearly 60 countries.

Waitrose has profitably expanded, outperforming the British grocery market for more than six years and taking sales from under £4bn in 2007 when Price took over as MD, to over £6.5bn today. It has done so while retaining and bolstering demonstrably decent values, making the brand one of the few that have a strong emotional attachment with their customers.

Innovation has been a central component of the franchise’s progression, with Price deserving considerable credit for nurturing and supporting the strong team he assembled. The Waitrose Essential range alongside work with Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal plus Duchy was especially enlightened, while MyWaitrose and Pick Your Own Offers stand out as bold moves.

We wish the Jolly One all future success, and would expect Rob Collins to build upon the very firm foundations that Price constructed.

Clive Black is head of research at Shore Capital Stockbrokers