Waitrose: Food to Feel Good about

February 18, 2023

Waitrose and Partners is a brand of British supermarkets.

At the turn of the last century, 1904, to be exact, entrepreneurs Wallace Wyndham Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor opened their first grocery shop on High Street in Acton, a small town 8.8 miles east of London, UK. They called their store, Waite, Rose and Taylor.

All three men were industrious and highly motivated to create a successful business that would provide buyers with a wide variety of groceries at affordable prices.

Each of the three owners had specific responsibilities: Waite focused on buying; Rose did the accounting; Taylor managed the shop floor.

In 1906, Taylor left the business, and in 1908, Waite and Rose formed Waitrose Ltd.

Over the next few years, as business increased, they acquired a number of small grocery stores in Acton.

Rose, who had sustained severe injuries while fighting in WW1, was forced to retire in 1924, for health reasons.

The business continued to grow, with branches opening in Windsor and Gerrards Cross. Waite continued to supply these more affluent areas but also traded with a group of shops called Wyndhams which were located in less affluent locations.

‘Grocery retail moved to self-service shopping in the early 1950s’

In 1937, Waite was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). His award-winning window displays included Canadian honey and Indian tea.

It was also in 1937 that the 10 Waitrose shops and 160 staff joined the John Lewis Partnership which owns department stores, supermarkets and convenience stores in the UK. Waite remained in the business until retiring in 1940. 

In the early 1950s, grocery stores began moving to self-service shopping. One of Watrose’s acquired shops, Schofield & Martin, was the first in the business to convert to a self-service store. 

In 1955, Waitrose opened its first supermarket in Streatham, south London, with 2,500sq ft of selling space. By the early 1970s, there were 50 branches in total, including several larger supermarkets. A distribution centre at Bracknell, Berkshire, was built to meet supply and demand. 

Waitrose is the twelfth-largest grocery retailer in the UK. They also export products to 52 countries and have locations in the Middle East.

Essential Waitrose: “Quality you’d expect at prices you wouldn’t.”
In 2009, to dispel the myth that Waitrose was a retailer for special occasions rather than for everyday shopping, the chain launched its value range of products as “essential Waitrose,” some 1,400 products branded with this name using simple white-based packaging.

Some interesting facts about Waitrose . . .

— Revenue of £6,983.6 Million ($11.3 billion USD) in 2022.
— Over 78,000 Partners who are all employees-owners in 2022.
— Exports own-label and branded goods to over 50 countries.
– – No 1 Waitrose is a range of about 650 premium lines with grey packaging.
Cooks Ingredients are spices, herbs and related products with colourful packaging.
Heston for Waitrose is a range of prepared food such as pies and cakes developed by Heston Blumenthal.

Gloria Sauvé