Waitrose is opening a 110,000 sq ft Customer Fulfilment Centre in Enfield, North London, to double its online grocery orders in the capital by September.
The site will be adding 13,000 weekly delivery slots for London customers as it splits from Ocado for home delivery.
The centre is part of a £100m investment in its online business, announced last year in preparation for Waitrose.com becoming the only place its customers can buy Waitrose food online from September of this year. At the time Waitrose said the Enfield centre would be one of three new centres to be launched to boost its online presence.
Since February Waitrose.com has accelerated its plans to try and work towards meeting the extreme demand for online shopping from the coronavirus pandemic. The service has increased by more than 50% to more than 120,000 customer orders per week. The amount of people-hours picking and delivering Waitrose.com orders has also increased in recent weeks, by more than 1,300 full-time equivalent roles.
Priority is being given to vulnerable and elderly shoppers, with 35% of orders last week going to shoppers Waitrose is able to identify as being in this group. While doing all possible to respond to the much increased need for slots, demand is still far outstripping the number Waitrose can reach.
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.
Waitrose.com Director Ben Stimson said: “Before coronavirus, Waitrose.com was already going through a period of significant expansion, with investment across our infrastructure and website. 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