Upmarket retailer Waitrose has been supplying the Irish retail chain Dunnes Stores with around 70 lines of products in recent times. With Waitrose seeking to deepen its relationship with the family-owned chain, there is much that the Irish operator could learn from the UK supermarket chain.
UK supermarket Waitrose currently supplies wine, ambient products and frozen foods to Dunnes in Ireland. While it is the only Irish retailer selling Waitrose products, Dunnes Stores has a number of stores in Britain – selling textiles only.
Having supplied Delia Smith Christmas Cakes to Dunnes last Christmas, the UK multiple, part of the John Lewis group, currently supplies Dunnes with a number of product lines, including wines, ambient products and frozen food.
In May the British retailer told a national newspaper that it was seeking to expand its arrangement with Dunnes to include a number of “seasonal lines at seasonal times of the year”.
Dunnes started its operations in 1944, forty years after the Waitrose co-founders Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor opened their first small grocery shop at 263 Acton Hill, West London.
The John Lewis Partnership acquired the grocery business in 1937, opening the first Waitrose supermarket in 1955. Fast forward 108 years from that store opening in West London: the company now runs 269 stores in the UK, exports to more than 30 countries and employs over 37,000 people.
Dunnes could learn much from the innovative Waitrose: the Little Waitrose outlets, online grocery shopping and the Dotcom Fulfilment Centre concept.
The Little Waitrose model has been welcomed by shoppers and town councils. Praised by UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the John Lewis Partnership retail model allows store employees to become co-owners of the business. They provide input on how the store is run. Employees receive an annual share of profits. In 2011, all partners received a bonus equivalent to 18 per cent of their annual bonus.
Online grocery shopping
The Sunday Business Post reported in June how the Irish retailer was preparing to go online in Ireland. Meanwhile, Waitrose has a contract with online grocer Ocado to deliver Waitrose food to British households. Ocado has delivered over twenty seven million orders since its launch in 2002. “Competition in the online grocery sector is as strong as the traditional store-based sector, and will almost certainly increase,” said Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado last December.
Dotcom Fulfilment Centre
Waitrose launched its first Dotcom Fulfilment Centre in West London last winter. The company began offering online shopping in London with orders being met by 19 branches in the capital. The Action-based 37,000 sq ft Dotcom Fulfilment Centre – also known as a “dark store” – looks like a supermarket but with Waitrose employees picking products from shelves, chillers, freezers, bakery and dedicated “service counter” areas for six orders at a time. (Nov 6)
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