Waitrose will have its own dedicated area in over 50 Dobbies food halls across the country

Waitrose is partnering with garden centre retailer Dobbies in a bid to grow its convenience business.

The tie-up will see the supermarket have its own dedicated area at more than 50 of Dobbies’ food halls across the country.

Waitrose will supply the retailer with over 2,000 products, including ready meals, free-from and vegan lines, prepared fruit and vegetables, snacks and store cupboard staples.

Dobbies customers will be able to buy products from the grocer’s value range Essential Waitrose, as well as its premium ranges Waitrose No.1 and Waitrose Duchy Organic.

The first launch will be at the Dobbies garden centre in Edinburgh by the end of July, with more locations being added later this year and throughout next year.

These will include around 20 new towns where Waitrose is not currently present, such as Ayr, Chesterfield, Derby and Gloucester.

“Our agreement with Dobbies not only gives us the opportunity to work with a partner who shares our values when it comes to quality and service, but underlines our ambitions to bring Waitrose food and drink to even more people throughout the UK,” said Waitrose executive director James Bailey.

“It will take us into locations that are entirely new for us and build our presence in other areas where a Waitrose shop may not currently be conveniently accessible despite strong demand for our products.”

The move is part of Waitrose’s larger plans to grow the convenience arm of the business, with the focus being on relevant partnerships with third parties.

Last year, it struck wholesale deals with Scottish convenience chain Margiotta and Channel Island convenience store chain Alliance.

Waitrose also has plans to supply 125 Shell forecourts by 2025. Additionally, it expanded its ongoing deal with Deliveroo earlier this year to make its products more widely available via the delivery company’s on-demand service.

The upscale supermarket is not the first to attempt a tie-up with Dobbies. Two years ago, Sainsbury’s made a similar move to supply the garden centre retailer as it grew its wholesale operations, which appeared to signal the end of Dobbies’ supply deal with wholesaler Nisa.

However, the trial came to an end when Sainsbury’s decided to pull the plug on its wholesale venture.

Dobbies CEO Graeme Jenkins said Waitrose was “the natural partner for us” as they both shared “a commitment to great value, quality and sustainability”.