Waitrose is to build its third online fulfilment centre in London – and says by the time it opens, as early as December, it will offer four times as many delivery slots within the capital as it did at the beginning of the year.
The new centre will be built in partnership with logistics provider Wincanton and create 800 jobs. It is part of Waitrose’s drive to build its online delivery capacity before its 10-year relationship with Ocado ends at the beginning of September. Already Waitrose has doubled its capacity this year to more than 150,000 delivery slots a week as demand for online grocery deliveries has soared during the coronavirus lockdown, and, according to ONS figures, 11% of grocery retail transactions took place online in May 2020, up from 5% in February. At least 25% of Waitrose’s online orders go to vulnerable customers, and the supermarket says it will continue to prioritise this group even after government shielding advice is relaxed.
“While we’ve already pulled forward our online expansion plans by six months we know there are still lots of people who want to shop online with us and currently can’t,” said Waitrose executive director James Bailey. “This is especially the case in London, where we’ve seen a significant and prolonged surge in demand for our online offer. This new centre will help us better serve the London area with a much broader range of slots.”
The retailer has also trebled the size of its Rapid service to 7,000 orders a week in London and Brighton, with 40% of slots reserved for vulnerable customers. Rapid, which first launched in September 2018, is delivered by the On the dot last-mile retail delivery business.
Most of Waitrose’s online deliveries around the country are picked from shops. Extra demand in London has been served to date by two extra online fulfilment centres, rising to three when this new centre opens in Greenford, West London. That could be as early as this December.