Waitrose sign

Waitrose will spend £100m this year on slashing the price of hundreds of products including fresh veg, meat and tea, in what the retailer said is a record price cut designed to help shoppers during the cost of living crisis.

From today, Waitrose is cutting prices on over 300 own-brand products, including 250 of the supermarket’s budget ‘Essentials’ range. Over a quarter of the price cuts will be by more than 20%.

Included in the cuts are a 725g serving of Waitrose Essential Frozen Garden Peas, which will fall 17% to £1, while Savoy cabbage from the same range will drop 22% from 90p to 70p.

The biggest reduction will be to 80g packs of Waitrose Essential British Roast Ham Slices, which wall fall to £1 down from £1.50, a reduction of 33%. A 160 bag (500g) pack of Essential Original Blend Fairtrade teabags will fall 9% to £2, as will a 250g pack of Essential Unsalted Butter.

“This all adds up to a more affordable, accessible Waitrose,” executive director James Bailey told The Grocer. Bailey said the price cuts were the result of the retailer making progress on its efficiencies programme, which had enabled it to reinvest in pricing.

“We’ve known for a while that we’d like to become more affordable, more accessible, but it’s about creating the headroom for that and then thinking long-term,” Bailey said.

The price event is the first of two to three tranches of cuts planned by Waitrose throughout the year, Bailey said, adding that it made sense to start with the Essentials range as these were the products customers purchased most often. 

The announcement marks a significant change of tack from the grocer, which has been under the cosh with falling sales over the past year. Like-for-like sales fell 0.6% in the 12 weeks to 22 January 2023 compared to the same period last year, according to Kantar data.

Bailey has so far resisted price cuts as a response to the cost of living crisis, instead doubling down on Waitrose’s commitment to quality and sourcing credentials, as was the premise of its October relaunch under the strapline ‘Food to feel good about’. The relaunch of its MyWaitrose loyalty scheme in January 2022 received a string of complaints from shoppers, who claimed they were not given enough time to redeem vouchers.

Bailey insisted the new price cuts did not mean a compromise on Waitrose’s commitment to quality and sourcing. “Same good stuff, slightly cheaper,” Bailey said. Waitrose invested £56m in farmers last year, he added. 

”Food to feel good about is absolutely the brand promise,” Bailey said.