Waitrose expects to create 1,500 jobs in new branches and its e-commerce grocery depot in 2016.
The grocery chain intends to open 14 shops across the UK from spring next year, including five supermarkets and nine Little Waitrose convenience shops. Together, they will add almost 200,000sq ft of selling space to its estate.
Supermarkets already confirmed include High Wycombe (Buckinghamshire), Uttoxeter (Staffordshire), Solihull (West Midlands), which will all open in the spring, and Truro (Cornwall) and Worcester, which will both open in the summer.
The retailer aims to introduce more of its latest concepts into the new branches including welcome desks, wine bars, juice bars, and areas for ‘grazing and informal dining’. Waitrose now has five shops with a wine and beer bar, eight with a juice bar, and recently became the first national supermarket to install a freshly made sushi counter in its shops after launching sushi counters in its Battersea Nine Elms and Bath branches in partnership with Kelly Deli.
It will also add new Little Waitrose shops in the South Bank Tower in central London and Leatherhead in Surrey during the summer and has plans for seven more convenience branches in new locations throughout next year.
In addition, the business will be creating up to 200 roles in its e-commerce fulfilment centre at Coulsdon in South London, to service its expanding number of branches. The 80,000sq ft multi million pound centre opened in 2015 to allow the supermarket to build its online capacity within the capital by a third. It will eventually fulfil 20,000 orders a week (or over 1 million orders a year) for Waitrose customers living within the M25. The centre already employs almost 400 people and once fully operational, Waitrose expects it to employ more than 700 people in total.
Waitrose director of development Nigel Keen said: “At a time when many retailers’ estates are contracting, we’re delighted to be opening new shops around the country and giving 1,500 people the opportunity to become Partners [staff] in our business. Many of these new shops will go beyond the traditional supermarket, delivering exciting modern shopping experiences which tap into the growing demand for grazing and casual dining.”
Waitrose currently has 346 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 62 convenience branches. It also has 27 shops at Welcome Break motorway services locations, seven branches in the Middle East, and a Food Hall at the John Lewis department stores in Oxford Street and Bluewater.
Waitrose’s omnichannel business includes the online grocery service, Waitrose.com, through which customers can choose to have their shopping delivered direct to their home or collect items from their local branch with a Click & Collect service.