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Nailing ’retail basics’ had helped Waitrose attract shoppers to spend more in stores, Bailey said

Waitrose will target its most expensive, premium own-label lines, as part of a new round of price cuts to be announced over the coming months, The Grocer can reveal.

The new investment follows £30m previously announced in February, with the next tranche of “at least as much” to be announced in the “near future” executive director James Bailey told The Grocer.

The value investment would focus on a “mix of products”, with as many as “half” being from Waitrose’s Duchy Organic or No.1 premium own labels alongside the core staples.

“As customers begin to consider quality, we want the gap between the core and our organic and No.1 range to be accessible. And for customers to not have a reason not to make the step up if they feel able,” said Bailey.

In its annual results last week, Waitrose’s sales grew 5% over the last year to £7.7bn. The retailer added nearly one million customers during that time, which had helped the John Lewis Partnership return to profit after two years of consecutive losses.

A £100m investment in lowering prices over the course of 2023 – which was mostly focused on Waitrose’s core Essential range – had helped to “stimulate customer growth”, however Waitrose had managed to encourage customers to spend more by “doing the retailer basics well and better”, Bailey explained.

Volumes had been flat during the first half of the year, but had picked up after the investment as more customers came back to stores.

Waitrose had earmarked a “significant amount” over the next four years focusing on improving its value proposition as part of its investment strategy, which will also see the supermarket open its first new stores in over a decade, and improve efficiency across its stores and supply chain.

“We’ll continue to invest in staples as it will always be a competitive market, but we’re going to shift some of that market into more premium, higher quality areas,” Bailey said.

JLP is also set to launch its pan-partnership loyalty scheme in 2024. The Grocer understands it will see the MyWaitrose scheme – which was relaunched in 2022 – folded under a single JLP programme that works across Waitrose and John Lewis.

“There’s a lot of momentum and confidence within the business again,” Bailey said. “We’re proud of the results and we’re excited and anxious to get on with the next few years. There’s a huge amount of opportunity for the business.”