At full capacity, the site will add 13,000 weekly delivery slots for London customers
The centre is part of a £100m investment in the retailer’s online business
Waitrose is opening its new CFC in north London this week to help double online grocery orders in the capital in time for the end of its Ocado contract in September.
The six-acre site in Enfield is creating 370 jobs, building to 850 when at full capacity, by which time it will be adding 13,000 weekly delivery slots for London customers.
The centre is part of a £100m investment in the retailer’s online business in preparation for Waitrose.com becoming the only place its customers can buy its food online, when Ocado’s new deal with Marks & Spencer goes live in September.
Waitrose said it had now accelerated its online plans as a result of soaring demand for its service during the coronavirus crisis.
The service has increased by more than 50% to more than 120,000 customer orders per week. The amount of people-hours picking and delivering Waitrose.com orders has also increased in recent weeks, by more than 1,300 full-time equivalent roles.
Priority is being given to vulnerable and elderly shoppers, with 35% of orders last week going to shoppers identified as being in this group. The supermarket added it was doing its best to respond to the much-increased need for slots, but demand was still far outstripping the number Waitrose could reach.
The new Enfield customer fulfilment centre will work alongside an existing CFC in Coulsdon, which delivers across the south London area, and a network of 14 delivery shops in the capital, which together deliver to all London postcodes. Forty shops in London have also recently become grocery collection shops for customers to click & collect orders.
Across the UK, a network of 183 shops reach more than 90% of postcodes.
“Before coronavirus, Waitrose.com was already going through a period of significant expansion, with investment across our infrastructure and website,” said Waitrose.com director Ben Stimson.
“Enfield was planned as a big part of our expansion plans – but in fact it is now also helping us respond as best we can to the huge demand for online slots – especially from our most vulnerable customers.
“One thing that recent weeks have highlighted to us is the importance of online retail to vulnerable people. Our shops have always been firmly rooted in their communities but through these challenging times our partners working in shops and delivering grocery orders have been at the forefront of trying to respond to these needs in a way we couldn’t have imagined. We’re extremely proud of partners across the country and the vital role they’re carrying out.”