SWOT analysis of Waitrose (Waitrose & Partners)
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.
Strengths of Waitrose
Waitrose has been in the market since 1904; hence a great market experience. It has 338 supermarkets across the UK (Bedford, 2022). 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 is positioned as a high-end retailer that offers high quality products. For many years, it has been considered one of the best supermarkets in the United Kingdom. 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.
Waitrose has received a number several 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 won both Supermarket of the Year and Specialist Retailer for England awards by IWC in 2021 (Gonclaves, 2021).
Waitrose is the 8th largest grocery retailer in the UK (Kantar, 2022). 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, 2022).
Waitrose has done a great job at creating an online presence. It has an informative website with recipes, videos, and everything customers would need to make their purchase decisions. It also uses social media platforms like Facebook to keep in touch with the customers.
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 it as having an ‘upmarket’ reputation. This perception is very costly for Waitrose as it loses huge businesses for this. In addition, it had to apologise for selling controversial chocolate Easter ducklings in 2019. The controversy made many customers unhappy with the retailer.
Though Waitrose is the 8th largest grocery retailer in the UK, it is far behind the market leader Tesco. 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 several stores in 2020.
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.
After a successful five store trial with Deliveroo, Waitrose has expanded the home delivery option to serve more locations. This has helped it attract new and younger customers who are likely to continue with their online shopping behaviour in many years to come (Waitrose, 2022).
Threats to Waitrose
Threat is the last element to address in the SWOT analysis of Waitrose. Competition is always a threat for 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. However, the ever-changing environment of food retailing and production makes it difficult for any high-street retailer to maintain the same standards and quality as Waitrose.
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’ by pushing customers further to the recognised market discounters.
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Last update: 20 January 2022
Bedford, E. (2022) 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 20 January 2022)
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)
Gonclaves, M. (2021) Waitrose wins two awards at the International Wine Challenge Awards 2021, available at: https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/waitrose/waitrose-wins-two-awards-at-the-international-wine-challenge-awards-2021/657581 (accessed 20 January 2022)
Kantar (2022) Great Britain grocery market share, available at: https://www.kantarworldpanel.com/en/grocery-market-share/great-britain (accessed 20 January 2022)
Waitrose (2022) About Waitrose B2B, available at: https://www.waitrose.com/home/about_waitrose/WaitroseB2B.html (accessed 20 January 2022)
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 holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.