This month the company announced it was closing eight of its 50 department stores, including department stores in Birmingham and Watford, with the likely loss of 1,300 jobs.
“We expect a continued rebalancing of [Waitrose] stores, opening new ones where we see high customer demand, and potentially closing others where demand is declining, ”Ms. White said, informing the group’s 80,000 partners, such as staff working for the mutual. is known of the progress of a strategic review started in March.
“Our existing stores will be updated to meet customer expectations.”
The retailer said it would also consider expanding into other areas such as services and even housing.
As she sought to reduce the size of her chains, she wanted to use “the excess space wisely,” White said. “We are exploring with others the concept of new affordable mixed-use housing.”
Waitrose has announced three rounds of store closings in the past two years, with a total of 17 of its supermarkets closed. The lockdown has fueled growth in online food sales and Waitrose expects its website to grow rapidly to account for a fifth of its business, up from 5% currently.
White said the retailer wanted to make Waitrose products, which include premium brands Duchy Organic and No 1, available elsewhere.
She suggested that the convenience market could be at the center of this push because Waitrose was less active in this area. It would also start stocking Waitrose products in more John Lewis stores and vice versa.
Another potential area of growth he identified was horticulture, and the company said it was examining how it could start a new business out of valuable assets such as the Leckford Estate – the 1,600 acre farm. near Stockbridge in Hampshire which was home to company founder John Spedan Lewis, who ceded his property rights to create the partnership.
White had previously warned that the company was unlikely to pay its annual staff bonus next year as it grappled with self-inflicted issues as well as those caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced its employees department stores to close for several months.
The annual payment – which distributes the same proportion for everyone from the president to the shelf stackers – is seen as a key part of the group’s employee-owned culture.
“As you all know, these are tough times, with profits this year and next likely to be called into question,” White said in the update, which also attempted to take an optimistic note on the future of the group.
“But the beauty of being a partnership is that we are able to take a long-term view. The strategic review should see green shoots in our performance over the next nine to 12 months, and our earnings recover over the next three to five years.