Waitrose is to export to China for the first time from today (April 18), after reaching an agreement to sell its products online to the Asian country.
This is also the first time that the supermarket chain has exported to a country via a website platform only, and the deal will give China access to Waitrose ranges including Waitrose Duchy Organic, Waitrose Baby and, later this year, essential Waitrose and Waitrose 1.
Waitrose products will be sold exclusively through the Royal Mail store on Tmall Global, an online marketplace operated by Alibaba Group.
Tmall is China’s largest third party online platform for brands and retailers to connect with Chinese consumers. Waitrose has arranged the deal through Chinese e-commerce specialist service provider Avenue51, which runs Royal Mail’s store on Tmall Global.
The Royal Mail store specialises in championing British companies and Waitrose will be one of its highest profile brands to date. There will be a dedicated Waitrose page within the Royal Mail’s online store with information about the brand, alongside product listings.
An initial 30 products will be available, including biscuits, tea, coffee, cereals and nuts as well as beauty, baby and organic ranges. More lines will be added shortly after the launch.
The retailer notes that a report by e-retail analyst Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) in 2014 highlighted the potential of the Chinese online market. It estimated that less than half of China’s 1.36 billion population was using the internet, despite it already being the world’s largest ecommerce market. In addition, the number of mobile internet users in China had grown by more than eight times in the last five years and was expected to surpass 700m this year.
Waitrose commercial director Mark Williamson said: “The potential for Waitrose in China is huge and although it’s a relatively modest start, it’s our ambition to see it become our biggest international business in the next three to five years. We’re proud that Waitrose is recognised around the world for quality and excited to be reaching new markets.”
China will become Waitrose’s 59th export market. It already exports own-label and branded goods to countries including Spain, India, Singapore, Ghana, Mauritius, South Africa, Barbados, Bermuda, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Grenada, Trinidad, Saudi Arabia and St Lucia.Its supermarket customers include Food Lover’s Market in South Africa, Unimarc in Chile, Park N Shop in Hong Kong, Eroski in Gibraltar, and Arkadia in Malta. Waitrose products are in department stores in South Korea and Switzerland and it has just opened its eighth shop in the Middle East.