In future, the retailer will source less cheese from its speciality supplier of 25 years, Anthony Rowcliffe & Son. Although it will continue buying Rowcliffe's speciality British cheeses, Waitrose will now source many of its Continental speciality cheeses direct from producers.
It will also increase the quantity of Continental products bought through another of its suppliers, Bradbury & Son. Waitrose already sells a wide range of European speciality cheeses, including many with protected origin status.
"These arrangements will allow us to build closer relationships with our small-scale cheesemakers across Britain and Europe," said a spokeswoman for the retailer, adding that cheese buyer Chris Dawson would be spearheading plans to get more cheese from smaller producers on to shelves.
Bradbury, which has supplied Waitrose for a number of years, said it welcomed the opportunity to support the retailer's commitment to artisan and specialist cheesemakers.
Rowcliffe, which has a turnover of approximately £40m, insisted the change in supply arrangements was amicable. While it would remain a significant supplier to Waitrose, it planned to focus on the core independent retail side of its business, said MD Tim Rowcliffe.
The increase in trade with independent retailers had been "astonishing" in the past two years, Rowcliffe added. "The independent business is absolutely flying."