Blog: Dean BestShould Waitrose keep its powder dry?

Dean Best | 8 May 2007

Upmarket UK retailer Waitrose is set to slash prices in a bid to become a national retailer, a move, however, that comes amid growing demand for premium food in the country.

Waitrose confirmed its plans to just-food earlier today (8 May) but remained tight-lipped on the exact nature of its strategy.

Over the weekend, new Waitrose boss Mark Price said that consumers believed the retailer charged higher prices on branded products than rivals like Sainsbury’s and Asda.

“We are aware that people doing their weekly shop have to stick to a budget and we want to make sure we don't disappoint,” Price told The Observer newspaper.

Waitrose’s move is somewhat puzzling, however. UK consumers are starting to trade up when it comes to their food shopping. However, some industry watchers believe that not all of the UK’s big retailers are in the best position to profit from this trend.

Merrill Lynch analyst Andrew Fowler argues that, as a brand, Asda seems out of step with the trend to premium. Fowler also asserted that, among the major retailers, Tesco is not seen as a particularly upmarket brand, especially when compared to Sainsbury’s or Waitrose.

Perhaps, then, Waitrose would do well to temper its push to provide more cut-price products.


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