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CoronavirusSupermarkets

Waitrose to open new distribution centre to double deliveries in London

Waitrose this week will open a new six-acre Customer Fulfilment Centre in Enfield, North London, to double its online grocery orders in the capital by September.

The upmarket grocer said the site will create 370 new jobs, building to 850 when at full capacity, by which time it will be adding 13,000 weekly delivery slots for London customers.

The centre is part of a £100m investment in its online business, in preparation for Waitrose.com becoming the only place its customers can buy Waitrose food online from September of this year.

However since announcing in February a national expansion campaign, Waitrose.com added it has “significantly” further accelerated its plans to try and work towards meeting the “extreme” demand for online shopping from the coronavirus pandemic.

Waitrose revealed its service has increased by more than 50% to more than 120,000 customer orders per week. The amount of people-hours picking and delivering Waitrose.com orders has also increased in recent weeks, by more than 1,300 full-time equivalent roles.

Priority is being given to vulnerable and elderly shoppers, with 35% of orders last week going to shoppers Waitrose is able to identify as being in this group. Despite doing all that is “possible” it said demand is still “far outstripping” the number Waitrose can reach.

The Enfield centre will work alongside an existing centre in Coulsdon, which delivers Waitrose.com customer grocery orders across the South London area, and a network of 14 delivery shops in the capital, which together deliver to all London postcodes.

Waitrose.com director, Ben Stimson, said: “Before coronavirus, Waitrose.com was already going through a period of significant expansion, with investment across our infrastructure and website.

“Enfield was planned as a big part of our expansion plans – but in fact it is now also helping us respond as best we can to the huge demand for online slots – especially from our most vulnerable customers.”

He added: “One thing that recent weeks have highlighted to us is the importance of online retail to vulnerable people.

“Our shops have always been firmly rooted in their communities but through these challenging times our Partners working in shops and delivering grocery orders have been at the forefront of trying to respond to these needs in a way we couldn’t have imagined. We’re extremely proud of Partners across the country and the vital role they’re carrying out.”

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