Waitrose reveals plans for third online warehouse

UK grocer Waitrose has announced today (29 June) it is planning to open a third online fulfilment centre, to help serve customers in and around London.

The new site will be in Greenford, west London, and it will be operated in conjunction with logistics company Wincanton.

Wincanton has supplied logistical services for Waitrose’s shops for around 20 years, and the partnership extension which is set to boost the retailer’s online operations could be up and running in time for Christmas 2020.

Earlier this year, Waitrose revealed plans to double the number of Waitrose.com slots in London, with the opening of a second online fulfilment centre, but it said the extra capacity announced today will give Waitrose’s London-based customers four times as many delivery slots to choose from, compared to the start of 2020.

Online orders from Waitrose are mostly picked and delivered to customers from a network of its shops located across the UK.

Waitrose has been rapidly expanding its online business following the end of its partnership with online grocer and technology company Ocado. The supermarket chain will now go it alone online, with Ocado entering into a joint eCommerce venture with Waitrose rival, Marks & Spencer.

James Bailey, Waitrose executive director, said: “While we’ve already pulled forward our online expansion plans by six months we know there are still lots of people who want to shop online with us and currently can’t.

“This is especially the case in London, where we’ve seen a significant and prolonged surge in demand for our online offer. This new centre will help us better serve the London area with a much broader range of slots.”

In addition to its work to expand its core Waitrose.com service, the retailer said it has trebled the size of its Rapid proposition to 7,000 orders per week, specifically in London and Brighton. The Rapid offering allows shoppers an opportunity to order a limited range of essential items online and receive the goods within two hours.

At least 40% of Rapid slots are reserved for vulnerable customers, which is one of a range of measures Waitrose implemented as the coronavirus took hold in the UK. All the major UK supermarkets revamped their operations during the pandemic, pivoting their businesses to make it easier for the most vulnerable people in society to shop online.

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