Waitrose has opened a six-acre customer fulfilment centre in Enfield that it says will double its online grocery orders in London by September.
The retailer says the site, located in North London, will create 370 new jobs, with employees totaling 850 when at full capacity. By autumn, it expects to have added 13,000 weekly delivery slots for its customers in the capital.
“One thing that recent weeks have highlighted to us is the importance of online retail to vulnerable people,” said Waitrose.com Director Ben Stimson. “Our shops have always been firmly rooted in their communities but through these challenging times our Partners working in shops and delivering grocery orders have been at the forefront of trying to respond to these needs in a way we couldn’t have imagined. We’re extremely proud of Partners across the country and the vital role they’re carrying out.”
The Enfield centre is part of a £100m investment in its online business, in preparation for Waitrose.com becoming the only place its customers can buy Waitrose food online from September.
Waitrose says its online service has increased by more than 50% to more than 120,000 customer orders per week. And the number of full-time workers added to meet these needs has exceeed 1,300.
“Before coronavirus, Waitrose.com was already going through a period of significant expansion, with investment across our infrastructure and website,” Stimson said. “Enfield was planned as a big part of our expansion plans – but in fact it is now also helping us respond as best we can to the huge demand for online slots – especially from our most vulnerable customers.”
The Enfield centre will work alongside an existing centre in Coulsdon, which delivers Waitrose.com customer grocery orders across the South London area, and a network of 14 delivery shops in the capital, which together deliver to all London postcodes. Forty shops in London have also in recent weeks become grocery collection shops, for customers to click and collect orders. Across the UK, a network of 183 shops reach more than 90% of postcodes.
Work on the new site began last October, with a focus on incorporating planet-friendly measures wherever possible – 95% of waste removed was recycled, reclaimed fixtures and fittings were installed, and a rain-harvesting system was created so the 100 delivery vans can be cleaned using rainwater.
“There has been a Herculean effort across many teams in preparation for launch – the team has worked tirelessly through such unprecedented times, reacting, embracing and evolving to ensure we remain on track,” General manager of the Enfield centre, Paul Shanks, said. “To have played a part in that has been great.”
In addition to its work to expand its Waitrose.com, the retailer has also more than trebled the size of its Rapid service to 7,000 orders per week, with at least 40% of slots reserved for vulnerable customers. The service offers up to 25 products for delivery within two hours.