Waitrose opens the first supermarket farm shop in the UK on Thursday as it flaunts its foodie credentials while showcasing the produce grown on its 4,000-acre farm estate in Hampshire.
The Leckford Estate outlet will sell more than 1,000 homegrown products including fresh meats and cheeses, bread, chutneys and a specially selected range of wine.
As well as stocking products from the John Lewis-owned farm, the shop has sourced goods from more than 60 suppliers in the region.
The company said popular products at its new venture may be distributed more widely to its 280 branches throughout the UK. Iain Dalton, head of the Leckford Estate, said: “Waitrose is in a very fortunate position to have its own farm, and the new shop, which is totally unique for Waitrose, can showcase not just the food produced on the estate, but allow outstanding local and regional food producers to flourish. The shop will sell the highest quality food and if something proves popular, there is the potential for it to be sold more widely.”
Leckford is a working farm producing arable crops, including high quality wheat which is used to make a range of Leckford-branded flour and rapeseed oil. The farm also supplies milk, apples, pears, apple juice, cider and chestnut mushrooms as well as Leckford free range chickens which are already sold in Waitrose branches.
The 165 square metre shop will have a strong emphasis on locally and regionally sourced food, with the bulk of the products coming from within a 30-mile radius of the estate.
The move by Waitrose to boost its reputation as a deluxe grocer comes after it announced the acquisition of the The Good Food Guide from the consumer magazine Which? The chain said the deal for the restaurant guide will bolster its reputation as a centre of excellence for food, built up through its Waitrose Kitchen and Waitrose Weekend publications, and Waitrose TV.
Waitrose marketing director Rupert Thomas said: “We aim to be the go-to shop for food lovers, and becoming the publisher of this well-loved guide will continue to develop our brand as an authority on good food.”
Other supermarkets have been taking steps to emphasise their links with farmers in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
The Co-operative chain has 14 farms across the UK while Tesco recently poached a senior executive from the National Farmers’ Union. Britain’s largest retailer appointed Tom Hind, corporate affairs director at the NFU, as director of agriculture – a new role designed to improve Tesco’s relationship with farmers and suppliers.
Waitrose is opening its latest business, titled simply The Farm Shop, against the backdrop of widespread consumer doubts about the provenance and safety of mass-produced food.
• This article was amended on 8 August 2013. The original wrongly suggested in one paragraph that Waitrose is “opening the shop amid widespread consumer doubts over its supply chain in the wake of the horsemeat scandal”. Waitrose has no supply chain issues as tests cleared all its products of horsemeat. This has been corrected.
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