Want to work with Waitrose?

Alistair stone
Alistair Stone, buying manager for Waitrose

Produce buyer Alistair Stone discusses what the experiential retailer is looking for from its supply chain

As a buyer at upmarket retailer Waitrose, Alistair Stone claims he is not solely focused on making higher margins or selling more volume, rather he says the aim of the game is all about pleasing the consumer by selling better quality.

“At Waitrose we’re about being experiential and offering wonderful food, customer service and value,” he comments. “We have a level of loyalty with our consumers because we sell a lot of really good quality products.”

Waitrose may only have a 5% share of the UK grocery market but in fresh produce Stone says that rises to about 8% and for certain categories, such as asparagus, it’s well into double digits.

“Our area of specialism is fresh food and we can really drive a lot of volume on these lines, so long as they constantly delight the customer,” he notes.

To achieve that, Waitrose sets the bar very high. “We have good relationships with our growers and they know we expect a certain level of quality – we aim to source the best,” Stone reveals.

“Standard setting and specifications are a big thing across the UK. It’s a challenge to get people to meet not just European standards but actually the expected level for the UK, which is probably even higher.”

Stone says those who have traditionally supplied the UK are a lot closer to understanding what the market requires.

From a category management point of view, traditional suppliers also better understand the characteristics of individual businesses in the UK, as well as what they’re looking for.

That said, Stone doesn’t believe it’s difficult to supply any market as long as you’re clear about what that market is looking for.

Added value

At Waitrose specifically, the buying team is always looking to buy well, but they are also looking for something that gives the retailer a point of difference.

“For me, the biggest single thing is having innovation in our categories and the leaders in genuine innovation will be in demand,” Stone remarks.

And while Waitrose is a strong supporter of UK-grown produce, Stone points out that he will only buy British if it is of good enough quality.

“I think selling poor produce would damage the UK market,” he comments. “Therefore, when I can’t get what I need from home, I’ll look elsewhere.”

Likewise, any overseas suppliers looking to sell to Waitrose have got to offer the retailer something it cannot source from the UK or elsewhere and be doing something different to their competitors.

“As you would expect, Waitrose buys a lot of produce from the UK and Europe because shipping is easier and prices are therefore cheaper,” Stone says.

“So if we go further afield, what’s the point of difference and why is it better? Why our consumers would look for products from somewhere else would normally boil down to better quality, varieties, availability and perceived value.”

But if a company can successfully supply a well developed, discerning market like the UK, Stone points out that it’s a great advert for their business.

“I have suppliers overseas that highlight in their company literature that they supply Waitrose as a badge of honour,” he says.

“They use it in their marketing – the fact that if they’re good enough to supply the UK, they’re good enough to supply pretty much anyone.”

With innovation crucial for Waitrose, Stone says the retailer does not simply wait for someone to come up with the next wonderful product.

“We may deal with the brokers, importers and marketing agencies, but we have very strong relationships with the growers and seed houses too, so we’re already there working with those who are actually developing new products, explaining what we think our consumers need,” he reveals.

“It’s very well forward planned because it takes eight to 10 years to develop a new potato variety, for example, or a new type of apple.

“As an experiential retailer if we’re not doing that we will lose our points of difference in the future. At the same time, we look to give our customers the day to day value they expect.”

Secret to success

Indeed, Waitrose has reaped huge success amidst a challenging retailing environment in the UK by offering consumers a unique shopping experience and making its stores appealing to visit.

“Waitrose is exciting for consumers because of the experience of seeing wonderful products and trusting that they’re going to be lovely to eat, plus they’re priced and sold in an environment which is relaxing and offers great customer service,” Stone says.

He believes Waitrose has been particularly successful as an experiential retailer because the chain offers good value, lovely surroundings in which to shop, special offers, a great online shopping platform, investment in new product and varietal development and new stores.

“There is a lot you can do to improve the experience for shoppers,” he notes. “Waitrose has spent a lot on hospitality and our cafés are absolutely flying. With our loyalty card, shoppers can get free coffee and newspapers when they spend over £5.

“We’ve also introduced ‘grazing’ so shoppers have the opportunity to stop within the aisles to taste and learn about food and drink – we see that as a real trend coming down the line.”

In the future, Stone firmly believes offering customers these types of services will be absolutely key to a retailer’s success in the UK.

“Growth in the UK will come from those channels where we are seeing movement right now, like eCommerce and convenience,” he says.

“Retailers with the best customer service will win, through options such as picking up your groceries at tube stations or airports, or having no substitutions in their online deliveries.”

All stories


Previous page

1 comment

Leave a comment
  1. Steve Beghin | Feb 02, 2015
    Spare a thought for the Producer, who has to manage production , while being exposed to the uncertainties of Nature; be vulnerable to the challenges of logistics; find a new market for the product that does not go to the Supermarket ( due to stricter quality standards) ; survive at the prices that the Supermarket accepts to pay and whose labours support the growing group of institutions and consultants who are involved in this retail industry, whose focus is on the consumer and their shopping experience. The gap between the return on capital at source and the return on capital at sale, seems to be widening.

    Leave a comment


    1. Your e-mail address will be used solely in case we have a question about your submission.It will not be published or used for marketing.
     
     
     
    Share


    Want to work with Waitrose?

    Alistair stone
    Alistair Stone, buying manager for Waitrose

    Produce buyer Alistair Stone discusses what the experiential retailer is looking for from its supply chain

    As a buyer at upmarket retailer Waitrose, Alistair Stone claims he is not solely focused on making higher margins or selling more volume, rather he says the aim of the game is all about pleasing the consumer by selling better quality.

    “At Waitrose we’re about being experiential and offering wonderful food, customer service and value,” he comments. “We have a level of loyalty with our consumers because we sell a lot of really good quality products.”

    Waitrose may only have a 5% share of the UK grocery market but in fresh produce Stone says that rises to about 8% and for certain categories, such as asparagus, it’s well into double digits.

    “Our area of specialism is fresh food and we can really drive a lot of volume on these lines, so long as they constantly delight the customer,” he notes.

    To achieve that, Waitrose sets the bar very high. “We have good relationships with our growers and they know we expect a certain level of quality – we aim to source the best,” Stone reveals.

    “Standard setting and specifications are a big thing across the UK. It’s a challenge to get people to meet not just European standards but actually the expected level for the UK, which is probably even higher.”

    Stone says those who have traditionally supplied the UK are a lot closer to understanding what the market requires.

    From a category management point of view, traditional suppliers also better understand the characteristics of individual businesses in the UK, as well as what they’re looking for.

    That said, Stone doesn’t believe it’s difficult to supply any market as long as you’re clear about what that market is looking for.

    Added value

    At Waitrose specifically, the buying team is always looking to buy well, but they are also looking for something that gives the retailer a point of difference.

    “For me, the biggest single thing is having innovation in our categories and the leaders in genuine innovation will be in demand,” Stone remarks.

    And while Waitrose is a strong supporter of UK-grown produce, Stone points out that he will only buy British if it is of good enough quality.

    “I think selling poor produce would damage the UK market,” he comments. “Therefore, when I can’t get what I need from home, I’ll look elsewhere.”

    Likewise, any overseas suppliers looking to sell to Waitrose have got to offer the retailer something it cannot source from the UK or elsewhere and be doing something different to their competitors.

    “As you would expect, Waitrose buys a lot of produce from the UK and Europe because shipping is easier and prices are therefore cheaper,” Stone says.

    “So if we go further afield, what’s the point of difference and why is it better? Why our consumers would look for products from somewhere else would normally boil down to better quality, varieties, availability and perceived value.”

    But if a company can successfully supply a well developed, discerning market like the UK, Stone points out that it’s a great advert for their business.

    “I have suppliers overseas that highlight in their company literature that they supply Waitrose as a badge of honour,” he says.

    “They use it in their marketing – the fact that if they’re good enough to supply the UK, they’re good enough to supply pretty much anyone.”

    With innovation crucial for Waitrose, Stone says the retailer does not simply wait for someone to come up with the next wonderful product.

    “We may deal with the brokers, importers and marketing agencies, but we have very strong relationships with the growers and seed houses too, so we’re already there working with those who are actually developing new products, explaining what we think our consumers need,” he reveals.

    “It’s very well forward planned because it takes eight to 10 years to develop a new potato variety, for example, or a new type of apple.

    “As an experiential retailer if we’re not doing that we will lose our points of difference in the future. At the same time, we look to give our customers the day to day value they expect.”

    Secret to success

    Indeed, Waitrose has reaped huge success amidst a challenging retailing environment in the UK by offering consumers a unique shopping experience and making its stores appealing to visit.

    “Waitrose is exciting for consumers because of the experience of seeing wonderful products and trusting that they’re going to be lovely to eat, plus they’re priced and sold in an environment which is relaxing and offers great customer service,” Stone says.

    He believes Waitrose has been particularly successful as an experiential retailer because the chain offers good value, lovely surroundings in which to shop, special offers, a great online shopping platform, investment in new product and varietal development and new stores.

    “There is a lot you can do to improve the experience for shoppers,” he notes. “Waitrose has spent a lot on hospitality and our cafés are absolutely flying. With our loyalty card, shoppers can get free coffee and newspapers when they spend over £5.

    “We’ve also introduced ‘grazing’ so shoppers have the opportunity to stop within the aisles to taste and learn about food and drink – we see that as a real trend coming down the line.”

    In the future, Stone firmly believes offering customers these types of services will be absolutely key to a retailer’s success in the UK.

    “Growth in the UK will come from those channels where we are seeing movement right now, like eCommerce and convenience,” he says.

    “Retailers with the best customer service will win, through options such as picking up your groceries at tube stations or airports, or having no substitutions in their online deliveries.”

    All stories


    Previous page

    1 comment

    Leave a comment
    1. Steve Beghin | Feb 02, 2015
      Spare a thought for the Producer, who has to manage production , while being exposed to the uncertainties of Nature; be vulnerable to the challenges of logistics; find a new market for the product that does not go to the Supermarket ( due to stricter quality standards) ; survive at the prices that the Supermarket accepts to pay and whose labours support the growing group of institutions and consultants who are involved in this retail industry, whose focus is on the consumer and their shopping experience. The gap between the return on capital at source and the return on capital at sale, seems to be widening.

      Leave a comment


      1. Your e-mail address will be used solely in case we have a question about your submission.It will not be published or used for marketing.
       
       
       
      Share










      Fresh Opinions

      nic_jooste

      The Killer Salad, The Fishless Fish and The Carnivore

      I knew there were‭ ‬vegans out there‭, ‬but the meteoric rise in diversity of vegan products has just astounded me‭. View full post >

      Jooste1

      From The Mouths Of Babes, A ‘Red Flag’ Vision Of The Future

      Understanding the younger generations requires asking the question: 'What makes them tick?' View full post >

      nic_jooste

      ‘Doing Good Today, For Tomorrow’ Becomes Commonplace

      Companies get serious about ‘making what we have last as long as possible‬’‭ ‬ View full post >

      JIM PREVOR

      Tesco, Carrefour Alliance May Not Provide Results In Produce As Predicted

      It is unlikely that consolidating buying will result in improvements in choice, quality and value for consumers. View full post >


      Mystery Shop Results

      Fresh Film


      Watch our exclusive fresh produce interviews, documentaries and event coverage

       













      Fresh Insight

      Want to work with Waitrose?

      Alistair stone
      Alistair Stone, buying manager for Waitrose

      Produce buyer Alistair Stone discusses what the experiential retailer is looking for from its supply chain

      As a buyer at upmarket retailer Waitrose, Alistair Stone claims he is not solely focused on making higher margins or selling more volume, rather he says the aim of the game is all about pleasing the consumer by selling better quality.

      “At Waitrose we’re about being experiential and offering wonderful food, customer service and value,” he comments. “We have a level of loyalty with our consumers because we sell a lot of really good quality products.”

      Waitrose may only have a 5% share of the UK grocery market but in fresh produce Stone says that rises to about 8% and for certain categories, such as asparagus, it’s well into double digits.

      “Our area of specialism is fresh food and we can really drive a lot of volume on these lines, so long as they constantly delight the customer,” he notes.

      To achieve that, Waitrose sets the bar very high. “We have good relationships with our growers and they know we expect a certain level of quality – we aim to source the best,” Stone reveals.

      “Standard setting and specifications are a big thing across the UK. It’s a challenge to get people to meet not just European standards but actually the expected level for the UK, which is probably even higher.”

      Stone says those who have traditionally supplied the UK are a lot closer to understanding what the market requires.

      From a category management point of view, traditional suppliers also better understand the characteristics of individual businesses in the UK, as well as what they’re looking for.

      That said, Stone doesn’t believe it’s difficult to supply any market as long as you’re clear about what that market is looking for.

      Added value

      At Waitrose specifically, the buying team is always looking to buy well, but they are also looking for something that gives the retailer a point of difference.

      “For me, the biggest single thing is having innovation in our categories and the leaders in genuine innovation will be in demand,” Stone remarks.

      And while Waitrose is a strong supporter of UK-grown produce, Stone points out that he will only buy British if it is of good enough quality.

      “I think selling poor produce would damage the UK market,” he comments. “Therefore, when I can’t get what I need from home, I’ll look elsewhere.”

      Likewise, any overseas suppliers looking to sell to Waitrose have got to offer the retailer something it cannot source from the UK or elsewhere and be doing something different to their competitors.

      “As you would expect, Waitrose buys a lot of produce from the UK and Europe because shipping is easier and prices are therefore cheaper,” Stone says.

      “So if we go further afield, what’s the point of difference and why is it better? Why our consumers would look for products from somewhere else would normally boil down to better quality, varieties, availability and perceived value.”

      But if a company can successfully supply a well developed, discerning market like the UK, Stone points out that it’s a great advert for their business.

      “I have suppliers overseas that highlight in their company literature that they supply Waitrose as a badge of honour,” he says.

      “They use it in their marketing – the fact that if they’re good enough to supply the UK, they’re good enough to supply pretty much anyone.”

      With innovation crucial for Waitrose, Stone says the retailer does not simply wait for someone to come up with the next wonderful product.

      “We may deal with the brokers, importers and marketing agencies, but we have very strong relationships with the growers and seed houses too, so we’re already there working with those who are actually developing new products, explaining what we think our consumers need,” he reveals.

      “It’s very well forward planned because it takes eight to 10 years to develop a new potato variety, for example, or a new type of apple.

      “As an experiential retailer if we’re not doing that we will lose our points of difference in the future. At the same time, we look to give our customers the day to day value they expect.”

      Secret to success

      Indeed, Waitrose has reaped huge success amidst a challenging retailing environment in the UK by offering consumers a unique shopping experience and making its stores appealing to visit.

      “Waitrose is exciting for consumers because of the experience of seeing wonderful products and trusting that they’re going to be lovely to eat, plus they’re priced and sold in an environment which is relaxing and offers great customer service,” Stone says.

      He believes Waitrose has been particularly successful as an experiential retailer because the chain offers good value, lovely surroundings in which to shop, special offers, a great online shopping platform, investment in new product and varietal development and new stores.

      “There is a lot you can do to improve the experience for shoppers,” he notes. “Waitrose has spent a lot on hospitality and our cafés are absolutely flying. With our loyalty card, shoppers can get free coffee and newspapers when they spend over £5.

      “We’ve also introduced ‘grazing’ so shoppers have the opportunity to stop within the aisles to taste and learn about food and drink – we see that as a real trend coming down the line.”

      In the future, Stone firmly believes offering customers these types of services will be absolutely key to a retailer’s success in the UK.

      “Growth in the UK will come from those channels where we are seeing movement right now, like eCommerce and convenience,” he says.

      “Retailers with the best customer service will win, through options such as picking up your groceries at tube stations or airports, or having no substitutions in their online deliveries.”

      All stories


      Previous page

      1 comment

      Leave a comment
      1. Steve Beghin | Feb 02, 2015
        Spare a thought for the Producer, who has to manage production , while being exposed to the uncertainties of Nature; be vulnerable to the challenges of logistics; find a new market for the product that does not go to the Supermarket ( due to stricter quality standards) ; survive at the prices that the Supermarket accepts to pay and whose labours support the growing group of institutions and consultants who are involved in this retail industry, whose focus is on the consumer and their shopping experience. The gap between the return on capital at source and the return on capital at sale, seems to be widening.

        Leave a comment


        1. Your e-mail address will be used solely in case we have a question about your submission.It will not be published or used for marketing.
         
         
         
        Share

        Want to work with Waitrose?

        Alistair stone
        Alistair Stone, buying manager for Waitrose

        Produce buyer Alistair Stone discusses what the experiential retailer is looking for from its supply chain

        As a buyer at upmarket retailer Waitrose, Alistair Stone claims he is not solely focused on making higher margins or selling more volume, rather he says the aim of the game is all about pleasing the consumer by selling better quality.

        “At Waitrose we’re about being experiential and offering wonderful food, customer service and value,” he comments. “We have a level of loyalty with our consumers because we sell a lot of really good quality products.”

        Waitrose may only have a 5% share of the UK grocery market but in fresh produce Stone says that rises to about 8% and for certain categories, such as asparagus, it’s well into double digits.

        “Our area of specialism is fresh food and we can really drive a lot of volume on these lines, so long as they constantly delight the customer,” he notes.

        To achieve that, Waitrose sets the bar very high. “We have good relationships with our growers and they know we expect a certain level of quality – we aim to source the best,” Stone reveals.

        “Standard setting and specifications are a big thing across the UK. It’s a challenge to get people to meet not just European standards but actually the expected level for the UK, which is probably even higher.”

        Stone says those who have traditionally supplied the UK are a lot closer to understanding what the market requires.

        From a category management point of view, traditional suppliers also better understand the characteristics of individual businesses in the UK, as well as what they’re looking for.

        That said, Stone doesn’t believe it’s difficult to supply any market as long as you’re clear about what that market is looking for.

        Added value

        At Waitrose specifically, the buying team is always looking to buy well, but they are also looking for something that gives the retailer a point of difference.

        “For me, the biggest single thing is having innovation in our categories and the leaders in genuine innovation will be in demand,” Stone remarks.

        And while Waitrose is a strong supporter of UK-grown produce, Stone points out that he will only buy British if it is of good enough quality.

        “I think selling poor produce would damage the UK market,” he comments. “Therefore, when I can’t get what I need from home, I’ll look elsewhere.”

        Likewise, any overseas suppliers looking to sell to Waitrose have got to offer the retailer something it cannot source from the UK or elsewhere and be doing something different to their competitors.

        “As you would expect, Waitrose buys a lot of produce from the UK and Europe because shipping is easier and prices are therefore cheaper,” Stone says.

        “So if we go further afield, what’s the point of difference and why is it better? Why our consumers would look for products from somewhere else would normally boil down to better quality, varieties, availability and perceived value.”

        But if a company can successfully supply a well developed, discerning market like the UK, Stone points out that it’s a great advert for their business.

        “I have suppliers overseas that highlight in their company literature that they supply Waitrose as a badge of honour,” he says.

        “They use it in their marketing – the fact that if they’re good enough to supply the UK, they’re good enough to supply pretty much anyone.”

        With innovation crucial for Waitrose, Stone says the retailer does not simply wait for someone to come up with the next wonderful product.

        “We may deal with the brokers, importers and marketing agencies, but we have very strong relationships with the growers and seed houses too, so we’re already there working with those who are actually developing new products, explaining what we think our consumers need,” he reveals.

        “It’s very well forward planned because it takes eight to 10 years to develop a new potato variety, for example, or a new type of apple.

        “As an experiential retailer if we’re not doing that we will lose our points of difference in the future. At the same time, we look to give our customers the day to day value they expect.”

        Secret to success

        Indeed, Waitrose has reaped huge success amidst a challenging retailing environment in the UK by offering consumers a unique shopping experience and making its stores appealing to visit.

        “Waitrose is exciting for consumers because of the experience of seeing wonderful products and trusting that they’re going to be lovely to eat, plus they’re priced and sold in an environment which is relaxing and offers great customer service,” Stone says.

        He believes Waitrose has been particularly successful as an experiential retailer because the chain offers good value, lovely surroundings in which to shop, special offers, a great online shopping platform, investment in new product and varietal development and new stores.

        “There is a lot you can do to improve the experience for shoppers,” he notes. “Waitrose has spent a lot on hospitality and our cafés are absolutely flying. With our loyalty card, shoppers can get free coffee and newspapers when they spend over £5.

        “We’ve also introduced ‘grazing’ so shoppers have the opportunity to stop within the aisles to taste and learn about food and drink – we see that as a real trend coming down the line.”

        In the future, Stone firmly believes offering customers these types of services will be absolutely key to a retailer’s success in the UK.

        “Growth in the UK will come from those channels where we are seeing movement right now, like eCommerce and convenience,” he says.

        “Retailers with the best customer service will win, through options such as picking up your groceries at tube stations or airports, or having no substitutions in their online deliveries.”

        All stories


        Previous page

        1 comment

        Leave a comment
        1. Steve Beghin | Feb 02, 2015
          Spare a thought for the Producer, who has to manage production , while being exposed to the uncertainties of Nature; be vulnerable to the challenges of logistics; find a new market for the product that does not go to the Supermarket ( due to stricter quality standards) ; survive at the prices that the Supermarket accepts to pay and whose labours support the growing group of institutions and consultants who are involved in this retail industry, whose focus is on the consumer and their shopping experience. The gap between the return on capital at source and the return on capital at sale, seems to be widening.

          Leave a comment


          1. Your e-mail address will be used solely in case we have a question about your submission.It will not be published or used for marketing.
           
           
           
          Share

          Produce Business UK is a part of Phoenix Media Network.

          Check out our family of publications and events!


          IN PRINT


          Produce Business



          Deli Business



          Cheese

          ONLINE

          Produce Business UK

          Perishable News


          freshfruitportal

          portal fruit

          china fruit



          IN PERSON

          London Produce Show
          LPS-Forum-Logo

          Amsterdam Produce Summit



          FCFAIR logo