SWOT analysis of Waitrose (Waitrose & Partners)

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SWOT analysis of Waitrose

This detailed SWOT analysis of Waitrose examines the strengths and the weaknesses of Waitrose & Partners. It also examines the opportunities and the threats facing the company. Waitrose & Partners, simply called ‘Waitrose’, is a British retailer of groceries, headquartered in Bracknell, Berkshire, England. It was founded by Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor in 1904. John Lewis Partnership is the parent company of Waitrose.

SWOT analysis of Waitrose

Strengths of Waitrose

Waitrose has been in the market since 1904; hence a great market experience. As of 2019, it has 349 supermarkets across the UK (Wunsch, 2019). It also works with a number of organisations such as supermarkets, food shops, department stores and distributors to export its products to more than 60 countries and territories around the world (Waitrose, 2019). It has been in a partnership with Ocado to take its products to the doorsteps of the customers for a long time. However, it is worth noting that Waitrose’s agreement with Ocado is ending in August 2020. Waitrose customers will then have access to the company’s own online platform waitrose.com. from 1 September 2020 onwards.

Waitrose is positioned as a high-end retailer that offers high quality products. It has been awarded a Royal Warrant for supplying Prince Charles with food and drink since 01 January 2011. It already has a Royal Warrant as a supplier to the Queen Elizabeth II. In fact, the original Warrant was granted to the company in 1928 to supply King George V with groceries and cleaning materials (Macdonald, 2010).

Waitrose has received a number of awards and accolades over the years. For instance, it received Which? Supermarket of the Year award, Multiple Cider Retailer of the Year, and Multiple Champagne Retailer of the Year in 2016. Likewise, it received Best MSC Certified Fish Counter of Marine Stewardship Council in 2015.

Waitrose is the 8th largest grocery retailer in the UK with 5.1% market share as of October 2019 (Kantar, 2019). Its commitment to innovation is praiseworthy. It rolled out its Quick Check ‘scan as you shop’ mobile app to all its myWaitrose customers in June 2016. The app helps customers scan the product barcode on their smartphones as they place products in their basket so that they do not need to scan those at a checkout. This has made the shopping and the checkout experience even easier for customers (Waitrose, 2019).

Weaknesses of Waitrose

Many customers perceive Waitrose as a retailer for few high earners and therefore, do not go there. Many newspapers, independent analysts and writers have also described the company as having an ‘upmarket’ reputation. This perception is very costly for Waitrose as it loses huge businesses for this.

As stated above, Waitrose has 5.1% UK grocery market share as of October 2019. It is far behind the market leader Tesco that has 27% market share. It is struggling to compete with Aldi and Lidl that draw middle-class bargain-hunters as well as those on a tight budget (Butler, 2019). Moreover, Waitrose decided to close seven stores in July 2019 risking approximately 700 jobs.

Opportunities for Waitrose

Waitrose can apply market penetration strategies to increase its sales and secure more market share in the UK. This can be achieved by providing customers with value for money and effective schemes of promotions. Waitrose can also focus on non-food items to increase its revenue streams. Likewise, further global expansion through franchise agreements and exporting is worth exploring.

Threats to Waitrose

Threat is the last element to address in the SWOT analysis of Waitrose. Waitrose faces a number of big competitors in the UK. Its main competitors are Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Morrison’s, Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, and Iceland. Increasing competition and price wars waged particularly by Aldi and Lidl impact heavily on the market shares and profits margins of Waitrose. Likewise, economic slowdown in the UK may hit this ‘upmarket brand’ pushing retailers to discounters.

Hope the article the SWOT analysis of Waitrose has been useful. You may also like reading SWOT analysis of Tesco and SWOT analysis of ASDA. Other relevant articles for you in are:

Marketing Mix of Walmart

SWOT analysis of Aldi

PESTEL analysis of the UK

Advantages and disadvantages of franchising

Competitors of Tesco

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Last update: 26 October 2019


Butler, S. (2019) Waitrose to axe seven more stores putting 700 jobs at risk, available at: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/18/waitrose-to-axe-seven-more-stores-putting-700-jobs-at-risk (accessed 22 October 2019)

Kantar (2019) Great Britain grocery market share, available at: https://www.kantarworldpanel.com/en/grocery-market-share/great-britain (accessed 22 October 2019)

Waitrose (2019) About Waitrose B2B, available at: https://www.waitrose.com/home/about_waitrose/WaitroseB2B.html (accessed 21 October 2019)

Macdonald, G. (2010) Waitrose awarded second Royal Warrant, available at: https://www.retail-week.com/waitrose-awarded-second-royal-warrant/5020699.article?authent=1 (accessed 22 October 2019)

Wunsch, N. (2019) umber of Waitrose stores in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2009 to 2019, available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/420263/waitrose-store-numbers-united-kingdom-uk/ (accessed 21 October 2019)

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Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He is a graduate of Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.