Waitrose said it would expand its Deliveroo service from 40 to 150 shops across the UK by the end of the summer, delivering food to about 13 million people. The move is expected to create 400 jobs at Waitrose shops, to fulfil orders ready to be collected by Deliveroo.
It follows a surge in online grocery shopping during the pandemic with digital orders now accounting for about 14% of the market, double that at the beginning of 2020. Supermarkets have struggled to keep up with demand for delivery services as shoppers changed behaviour to try to shield themselves from the Covid-19 virus.
Waitrose customers will be able to order from an increased range of 750 to 1,000 products and have them delivered in 20 minutes to addresses from London to Scotland. New locations on Deliveroo will include shops in Cheltenham, Lincoln, Exeter, York and Sheffield.
The expanded range includes “free from” products, dairy alternatives, vegan foods, flowers and gifts, steak dinners and treats such as profiteroles and prosecco, as well as meals for seasonal occasions.
The Deliveroo partnership is also part of an effort to win over shoppers from its former partner Ocado, which last year parted ways with the upmarket grocer after almost two decades together and switched to selling Marks & Spencer food.
M&S also tested out deliveries with Deliveroo, from its stores on BP petrol stations, but ended the relationship in September shortly before its tie-up with Ocado launched.
Waitrose, which is battling against heavy competition from bigger rivals such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s as well as M&S and Ocado, said sales of its products through Deliveroo had been strong and the service had helped to attract new and younger customers.
Waitrose has expanded its network to handle 240,000 orders a week, four times more than before the pandemic, and has ramped up fast-track grocery deliveries through its two-hour Rapid service, which operates from 28 stores, mostly in London, as well as via Deliveroo.
James Bailey, the executive director of Waitrose, which is owned by John Lewis Partnership, said: “We have grown our online business at pace in the last year, responding to huge demand for online groceries and offering more choice in when and how people want to shop with us.”
The two-year partnership comes after Deliveroo’s eagerly awaited stock market flotation on 31 March turned out to be a flop, with the shares falling by 26%. Deliveroo is under pressure to reverse mounting losses and to improve employment rights for riders.
Waitrose said it had held “lengthy discussions with Deliveroo” before the agreement and “received assurances about its self-employment model and its rider fees”.
Carlo Mocci, the chief business officer for the UK & Ireland at Deliveroo, said the partnership would create more work for riders across the UK. “Waitrose is one of the most respected and loved British companies and we are proud to expand the extremely popular Waitrose service on Deliveroo.”