Waitrose has completed the first quarter of its trading year, delivering a strong uplift in divisional sales (excluding petrol) of 6.5% for the first 13 weeks of the year.
Waitrose managing director Mark Price said: “These robust figures continue our sustained market outperformance in the face of a tough market. However we have continued to invest in our business and we now have a record market share of 5%, based on Kantar figures.”
He continued: “As expected, sales in the week ending April 26 were 2.1% lower than last year, explained by the shorter trading week with the closure of most shops on Easter Sunday. A more meaningful picture is provided by comparing the two-week Easter trading period this year with the equivalent fortnight last year, which shows a divisional sales uplift of 7%. As we build our online presence, our grocery sales through Waitrose.com have powered ahead and were up 79.4% for the quarter, boosted by our successful marketing and promotional activity.”
The grocery chain opened eight shops in the first three months (compared with no new branch openings in the first quarter of last year). This week it will open new shops in Leek and Hereford. Mark Price commented: “The development of the modern Waitrose has also seen us take a number of new concepts into branches to give shoppers additional reasons to visit. We are trialling bakery and patisserie concepts, juice bars, wine and deli grazing areas, and all are showcased together for the first time in our Swindon branch – which opened last month and is performing ahead of expectations.”
He added: “Our customers’ second-favourite hobby, after cooking, is gardening and we’re continuing to grow our offer, with sales up 22.4% in the quarter and gardening pods now in 180 branches. The Alan Titchmarsh range, launched in February, has proved popular.”