Blog: Waitrose shoppers do it from scratch

Catherine Sleep | 11 October 2006

At yesterday’s IGD annual convention, it was a revelation to hear upmarket UK grocer Waitrose’s managing director Steven Esom declare that the company is seeing a gradual rejection of prepared foods in favour of a return to cooking from scratch. I didn’t see many heads nodding in the audience, so maybe this ‘trend’ is peculiar to the Waitrose demographic.

Another interesting aside from Esom concerned Waitrose’s decision not to have a ‘value’ range of own-label food, unlike the other major multiples. He said this was because Waitrose’s customers wanted to eat the same range of ‘really good’ food – again, I suspect this is a Waitrose phenomenon. As he said, “People will pay more for premium food”. Yes, if they can, they probably will.

Funnily enough, last night I gained an insight into the community attitudes of the supermarkets in a town near our home, Tonbridge, Kent. A friend sold us some raffle tickets to raise funds for a care centre for disabled children. She’d clearly been up and down Tonbridge High Street persuading businesses to donate prizes, which led to some interesting donations such as “A haircut (no perm or colours)” or “A family swim at the leisure centre”.

The main prize was a £100 voucher donated by Waitrose, which clearly put no pressure on Tesco whatsoever. For what did the country’s leading retailer come up with, the one that takes £1 out of every £7 we spend on the high street? A box of Milk Tray, that’s what. Ooh, not good PR, is it?

Further reports from the IGD annual convention


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