Waitrose is building a £1.5m development kitchen and doubling its number of innovation chefs in a bid to strengthen its focus on new products.
The retailer will open the new facilities, located at its Bracknell headquarters, in the middle of next year.
The site will include a kitchen, cookery theatre for training courses in food knowledge and development, a dedicated innovation room and five tasting rooms, where Waitrose’s chefs will work together with suppliers on product development.
The team will include seven innovation chefs led by executive chef for brand development and innovation Jonathon Moore.
Waitrose has established a reputation for innovation, having been the first supermarket to bring foods such as houmous and sushi to British shoppers in the 1980s. More recently, it has enlisted the help of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to develop creations such as the Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding in 2010 and a citrus sherbet gin this year.
Waitrose said the new facility would enable it to “increase the pace” of innovation.
“Innovation is in the DNA of our business and over the years we’ve pioneered everything from the first supermarket organic food through to chocolate and ginger mince pies, which are new this Christmas,” said commercial director Rupert Thomas.
“This new facility is part of our commitment to being the most innovative, high-quality food retailer in the supermarket sector.”