Waitrose is on Call

Waitrose is about to launch its long awaited Call and Collect home shopping trial. MD David Felwick said: “We are in the final stages of setting up Call and Collect in one shop where customers place their orders remotely for later collection. “We are using a BT Call Centre to give us some experience of the implications of out-sourcing such a facility.” Waitrose refuses to say which store will run the trial. With its trial, Waitrose is following in the footsteps of Safeway and Sainsbury, which are trialling similar services. But in a dig at rivals, Felwick said much was going on in the field of home shopping “and some of our competitors are finding it a tricky operation”. “Waitrose is concentrating on those facilities that we feel best suit our customers by extending the system of home delivery at Putney to another 20 branches and in particular the introduction of Waitrose@ work after a successful trial with ICL,” he added


A healthy balancing act

A new range of more than 100 healthy eating lines is being described as the most ambitious product launch in the history of Waitrose by director of buying Steven Esom. Perfectly Balanced will be a sub brand featuring 117 new lines which contain 4% fat or less, and goes on sale in branches this week. All the products will also contain less than 300mg of sodium per 100g, and be free from artificial sweeteners, flavourings and flavour colours. Esom said: “Perfectly Balanced is perfectly poised to raise the pace in the healthy eating sector. Customers have been suffering a taste compromise for far too long. That suffering is now over. Four per cent fat is not a barrier to 100% taste, as Perfectly Balanced proves.” The new range covers all meal options including muesli and cereal as breakfast options, lunch items such as sandwiches, and fresh meals. Rather than emphasising the diet aspects of the food, Waitrose is promoting Perfectly Balanced’s taste, freshness and healthy lifestyle.


Testing time for Ocado

Waitrose is putting every aspect of its proposed Ocado e-commerce venture under the microscope. Two hundred friends and family’ in north London are taking part in trials of the home shopping and delivery service being developed in conjunction with Last Mile Solutions An Ocado spokewoman said: “We are putting every aspect of the business under the microscope with the selected participants. We want to build the brand on an exceptional level of customer care, through hi-tech, bespoke software and systems infrastructure.” The service is being tested in premises from warehousing provider BOC Distribution Services’ in Hemel Hempstead and will move to a picking centre in Hatfield early next year. The Hatfield centre, still under construction, will provide 1.2 million sq ft of floorspace. Ocado md Nigel Robertson said: “That centre will be capable of doing the equivalent in home delivery terms of 20 medium sized superstores, and will be able to reach anywhere in the south-east of England.” A date for a full-scale roll out from Hatfield will not be decided until testing is complete. Robertson said Ocado would expand into a national operation within three to five years, serving major conurbations.


Waitrose has struck a double sponsorship deal with Classic FM. It has teamed up with Michael Barry, the Crafty Cook, to back The Classic Recipe broadcast during Henry Kelly’s top ratings weekday morning show. The multiple is also sponsoring a new weekly feature, The Classic Guide to Wine presented by Charles Metcalfe. Classic FM, launched in 1992, has a weekly audience of 4.9 million.


New stores on the way

Waitrose is opening five new stores this year after a period of consolidation in 2001 while it integrated a clutch of Somerfield stores into the estate. The new sites will bring store numbers up to 141. The store development plan for 2002 includes two food and home stores at Canary Wharf and Cheltenham and three Waitrose supermarkets in Belgravia, Tunbridge and Chandlers Ford. Waitrose branded food and home stores stocking groceries plus a range of John Lewis lines, have been extremely successful in Southend and Salisbury, and now form an integral part of Waitrose’s development programme, a spokeswoman said. Waitrose posted a 10% rise in sales for the year to the end of January. Details of profits and a full year sales figure will be released in March.