Waitrose's multichannel focus generating results

Upmarket grocer Waitrose has reported a 5.6% increase in sales for the week to 25 January, with its online platform driving much of this impressive growth.

Waitrose.com reported a 113% year-on-year rise in sales for the week, with the supermarket's retail director Rob Collins saying the company had "ended the financial year on a high".

"This was a fitting end to what has been a fantastic half year with total sales, excluding petrol, up by 6.8%," explained Collins.

"This strong growth has been driven by the popularity of [the recently launched loyalty scheme] myWaitrose, the growth in our omnichannel offer, and the continued hard work of all partners providing outstanding service."

Independent retail analyst and consultant Nick Bubb said that Waitrose can be pleased with its progress over the last year, particularly when it compares its like-for-like annual sales increase of around 4.5% to the more subdued performance of the big four supermarkets over the Christmas period.

"As we move into February and the start of the new financial year for John Lewis and Waitrose, the strong pick-up in the latest GFK Consumer Confidence index will make them confident of maintaining their impressive trading momentum," he added.

Meanwhile, it was announced last week that Waitrose is one of a number of leading businesses set to start working with Transport for London (TfL), which will see the supermarket establish click & collect facilities at London Underground stations.

After a successful trial with Asda, which began in November last year, TfL is now entering into partnership with other businesses to offer consumers convenient pick-up points for their online shopping orders. It is set to mainly benefit commuters who can collect their goods from station car parks en route back from their offices.

Subject to successful testing periods, both Tesco and Waitrose will install click & collect facilities at up to six stations each later this year.

For Waitrose, which has reported significant success with a similar click & collect arrangement that allows shoppers to pick up John Lewis online orders from its supermarkets across the UK, the TfL link-up is just another stage in its burgeoning multichannel strategy.

Robin Phillips, eCommerce director at Waitrose, commented: "Giving our customers as many ways as possible to buy and collect their groceries on the move is key to building on the phenomenal growth seen at Waitrose.com.

"Collection lockers will unlock the potential to reach customers in locations where we don't have a shop and which are very convenient, such as on the way home from work or the school run.

"More and more people are adding an online shopping mission to their way of buying from Waitrose and we will continue to invest in making sure that we give them what they want, when they want it."