New Waitrose.com centre to double grocery deliveries to customers in London

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Waitrose is opening (7 May) a six-acre Customer Fulfilment Centre in Enfield, North London, to double its online grocery orders in the capital by September. 

The site is creating 370 new jobs, building to 850 when at full capacity, by which time it will be adding 13,000 weekly delivery slots for London customers.

The centre is part of a £100m investment in its online business, in preparation for Waitrose.com becoming the only place its customers can buy Waitrose food online from September of this year.

However since announcing in February a national expansion campaign, Waitrose.com has significantly further accelerated its plans to try and work towards meeting the extreme demand for online shopping from the coronavirus pandemic. The service has increased by more than 50% to more than 120,000 customer orders per week. The amount of people-hours picking and delivering Waitrose.com orders has also increased in recent weeks, by more than 1,300 full-time equivalent roles.

Priority is being given to vulnerable and elderly shoppers, with 35% of orders last week going to shoppers Waitrose is able to identify as being in this group. While doing all possible to respond to the much increased need for slots, demand is still far outstripping the number Waitrose can reach. 

The Enfield centre will work alongside an existing centre in Coulsdon, which delivers Waitrose.com customer grocery orders across the South London area, and a network of 14 delivery shops in the capital, which together deliver to all London postcodes. Forty shops in London have also in recent weeks become grocery collection shops, for customers to click and collect orders. Across the UK, a network of 183 shops reach more than 90% of postcodes. 

Waitrose.com Director Ben Stimson said: “Before coronavirus, Waitrose.com was already going through a period of significant expansion, with investment across our infrastructure and website. Enfield was planned as a big part of our expansion plans - but in fact it is now also helping us respond as best we can to the huge demand for online slots - especially from our most vulnerable customers.   

“One thing that recent weeks have highlighted to us is the importance of online retail to vulnerable people. Our shops have always been firmly rooted in their communities but through these challenging times our Partners working in shops and delivering grocery orders have been at the forefront of trying to respond to these needs in a way we couldn’t have imagined. We’re extremely proud of Partners across the country and the vital role they’re carrying out.”

Work on the new site began last October, with a focus on incorporating planet-friendly measures wherever possible - 95% of waste removed was recycled, reclaimed fixtures and fittings were installed, and a rain-harvesting system was created so the 100 delivery vans can be cleaned using rainwater.

General manager of the Enfield centre, Paul Shanks, says ‘There has been a Herculean effort across many teams in preparation for launch - the team has worked tirelessly through such unprecedented times, reacting, embracing and evolving to ensure we remain on track. To have played a part in that has been great.’

In addition to its work to expand its Waitrose.com, the retailer has also more than trebled the size of its Rapid service to 7,000 orders per week, with at least 40% of slots reserved for vulnerable customers. The service offers up to 25 products for delivery within two hours.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • Waitrose.com delivers to nearly 90% of postcodes across the country via a network of 183 Waitrose shops across the country, its existing fulfilment centre in Coulsdon, and now this second centre in Enfield.
  • Deliveries have expanded by more than 50% in recent weeks to more than 120,000 orders per week, at a much increased rate in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A significant part of this increase has been through an increase in collections, with Click & Collect offering the opportunity for Waitrose to grow minimal-contact shopping. 
  • Waitrose has committed that at least 25% of orders go to elderly and vulnerable customers - including via the Government lists of clinically vulnerable people - in fact the percentage is much higher (35% last week). While it is doing all it can to give slots to those who need them, demand is extremely high.
  • The retailer has been working to keep our shops well stocked for customers shopping on behalf of others who may be vulnerable, with full social distancing precautions in place. And would encourage any customers who are able to go to a shop to please do so, to help free up slots for those who need them the most.
  • Waitrose has also set up a £1million support fund which shops are using to support people in their local communities, including to create care packages for those that need them, and delivering boxes of essentials to local care homes and community groups.

About the John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership owns and operates two of Britain's best-loved retail brands - John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners. Started as a radical idea nearly a century ago, the Partnership is the largest employee-owned business in the UK and amongst the largest in the world, with over 80,000 employees who are all Partners in the business. For all intents and purposes, the Partnership is a social enterprise; the profits made are reinvested into the business - for customers and Partners. John Lewis & Partners operates 50 shops across the UK (37 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2) as well as johnlewis.com. Waitrose & Partners has 338 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. Waitrose & Partners exports products to more than 50 countries worldwide and has nine shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. The retailer's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service, Waitrose.com, as well as specialist online shops including waitrosecellar.com for wine and waitroseflorist.com for plants and flowers.