Waitrose will find it tougher than it thinks to meet its target of opening 300 c-stores within the next 10 years, experts have warned. 

This week, the retailer unveiled aggressive expansion plans to open the c-stores as well as nine new franchise stores in Welcome Break service stations. It also revealed plans to trial the sale of its products in Boots stores. 

“This is really putting enormous pressure on the organisation,” said Bob Farrand, director of the Guild of Fine Food Retailers. 

Even Tesco had found developing its c-store estate challenging, Shore Capital analyst Darren Shirley said. “When Tesco launched Express, it took two to three years to sort out wastage and labour issues,” he said. “Operating c-stores is not easy to do.” 

Waitrose would need to ensure standards of service and quality remained as high as in its supermarkets, added Farrand. “Waitrose made its name by selling better quality food and drink than any other supermarket and it has always cared for and trained all its shop floor people,” he said.
The larger of the c-stores, which will range from 2,000 sq ft to 7,000 sq ft, would feature meat and fish counters, a bakery and takeaway coffee, said Waitrose. The new formats would take the retailer to the 6.5 million shoppers who currently had no access to its stores, it added. “We’ll be making Waitrose accessible to more customers in more places and we’ll be able to create thousands of new jobs,” said managing director Mark Price. 

Waitrose would not reveal what type of food it would sell in Boots.