Upmarket UK retailer chain Waitrose is hoping to "dramatically" increase its presence in the country with plans to expand further into the convenience sector. 

A spokesperson for Waitrose told just-food today (24 September) that the group intends to double its size between 2006 and 2015. Waitrose's annual revenues for the year to 27 January 2006 stood at GBP3.7bn (US$5.98bn).

As part of that aim Waitrose has announced a strategic relationship with Boots UK. The agreement will see Waitrose rebrand the Boots-owned pharmacies in its stores as "Boots Pharmacy".

Waitrose and Boots are also in talks to sell selected product ranges in each other's stores. The deal would see Waitrose supply food to the Boots, while Boots would provide health and wellness products to Waitrose.

Waitrose, meanwhile, also said that it would expand its franchise agreement with motorway service provider Welcome Break.

In May, Welcome Break and Waitrose opened the first franchise-operated Waitrose outlet at the M40 Oxford services. This, Waitrose said, allowed the company to reach up to 9m motorists.

The franchise model will now be rolled out at nine other Welcome Break locations, with potential for additional stores in the future.

"Working with partners of this quality, with their strong reputations and extensive representation, will mean we make a dynamic entry into convenience and fully exploit the business opportunity," MD Mark Price said.

A spokesperson for the group emphasised that the move will extend the retailer's accessibility.

"There are currently 6.5m customers who don't have ready access to Waitrose stores so this will help us to reach these customers," the spokesperson said.

Waitrose also revealed that it planned to trial smaller 2,000-4,000 square foot stores in the new year, following the "successful" launch of four 5,000-7,000 square foot stores.
This move gives Waitrose an overall potential to open 300 convenience branches, the company said.

The company's drive into convenience comes "alongside" its efforts to expand in the conventional supermarket sector, the spokesperson added.