Waitrose & Partners is opening a new customer fulfilment centre in Greenford, West London, which will help the retailer to offer five times more online slots each week in London than before the pandemic.
Each week, the centre will process 25,000 orders from the retailer's website, with staff at the centre picking and packing 1.25 million products delivered via a network of 150 new vans.
It is the third Waitrose customer fulfilment centre, joining existing sites in Coulsdon and Enfield to cover the high demand in London.
A network of Waitrose stores covers 90% of the postcodes across the rest of the UK, the retailer added.
Director of Waitrose.com, Laura Burbedge, said, "Waitrose.com now accounts for a fifth of our total business, compared to 6% a year ago. But despite this huge growth, we know there are still more people who would like to shop online with us – so this new centre is a significant step in our future plans."
First Dark Store
The new centre is the first of the chain's dark stores and will operate in partnership with supply chain partner Wincanton plc.
James Wroath, Wincanton CEO, said, "As the first supply chain partner to create a dark store for grocery home deliveries in the UK, this is an exciting growth opportunity for Wincanton.
"Dark stores will play a huge role in helping supply chains adapt to meet a new set of expectations as more retail purchases are made online, and they will better enable businesses to serve customers, at scale."
Research from the 2021 Waitrose Food & Drink Report revealed that a quarter of UK adults bought food online for the first time last year, with over three-quarters of people in the UK now doing some of their grocery shopping online, compared to 61% in 2019.
The study also noted that 69% of people who shopped for food online during the pandemic plan to continue doing so.
Waitrose & Partners has also teamed up with UK-based charitable food redistributor, FareShare, to prevent food waste in the fulfilment centre.
Since 2017, the retailer has donated the equivalent of over 4 million meals to FareShare.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Conor Farrelly. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.