Waitrose director:sales growth will continue for years

City A.M. Reporter
UPMARKET grocer Waitrose expects annual sales to rise by a double-digit percentage for years to come, despite a tough economic backdrop, driven by new store openings, its managing director said yesterday.

Mark Price, speaking at the annual conference of grocery industry body the Institute of Grocery Distribution, said conditions for consumers were likely to be tough for the next year or two as the government hikes taxes and cuts spending to rein in its borrowings.

But he did not expect the British economy to fall back into recession and thought the brunt of consumer cutbacks would be focused on non-food products.

There would be “pretty regular, solid growth” for the grocery industry, he said, adding: “I don’t think we will see a double dip.”

Price said Waitrose, part of employee-owned retailer John Lewis, had ruled out big acquisitions and was focusing instead on expansion plans which include opening around 10 to 15 supermarkets and 30 convenience stores a year.

He added that the grocer will continue to focus on internet shopping, and that he believes this sector has potential for more growth.

Waitrose last month launched an advertising campaign promising to beat rival Tesco’s prices on over 1,000 branded products. The grocer, which publishes weekly sales figures was 9.4 per cent up on last year in the week to 8 October with turnover of £92.87m.