Media Release: Strong Waitrose sales are proof of the (Heston) pudding

WAITROSE this week announced total sales of £103m for the week ending Saturday 27th November. Momentum grew as customers geared up for Christmas and stocked up with warming foods.

Says a spokesperson: “This is a 10.6 per cent increase on the same week last year and is 25 per cent up on the same week two years ago.

“The week’s stand-out success story was Heston Blumenthal’s innovative Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding, containing a whole candied orange, created especially for Waitrose by the top chef.

“This week’s icy conditions also prompted customers to fill their shopping baskets with winter warmers.

“Soups and hot chocolate were up 28 per cent and 30 per cent respectively, while spicy foods were another popular choice to keep warm with fresh chilli sales up 25 per cent. Casserole and stewing meats were the cuts of choice from meat counters with sales up 63 per cent on last year.

“Many customers opted for online grocery deliveries in preference to braving the icy temperatures. This drove a 41 per cent year-on-year uplift in online grocery sales through Waitrose Deliver. With a sustained period of freezing weather predicted, Waitrose has placed additional orders to ensure its shops are fully-stocked with every day staples during the cold spell.

“Shoppers have also been keen to protect their feathered friends as temperatures plummeted. Bird food was up by a massive 90 per cent and sales of plastic bird feeders were five times higher than this time last year.”

Mark Price, Waitrose managing director, said: “Our sales grew strongly again this week as customers shopped to keep out the cold and stepped up the pace of their Christmas preparations. The success of Heston’s Christmas pudding shows that customers are as keen as ever to have the best quality for their festive meals and all our top tier ranges are performing well.

“We’ve never sold out of a Christmas pudding in November before but Heston’s innovative take on the traditional favourite has really captured the imagination of our customers. Waitrose has already sold four times more of the theatrical Christmas day centre piece than any other premium pudding has ever sold before.”

Demand for the festive dessert has been so fierce that puddings have been appearing for auction on ebay.

Virtually every pudding across the country had sold out by the end of the week – prompting the retailer to order an extra consignment of Valencian candied oranges in order to make more of the prized puddings. Waitrose stores in Edinburgh and Glasgow sold out of the pudding last week.

Heston’s suggested accompaniment for the pudding, cointreau butter, also led to a spike in sales of cointreau which is up by 90 per cent on the previous week.

Heston said: “Britain gave the pudding to the world. Historically, we created both savoury and sweet puddings and whilst reading about them, I came across one called Sussex Pond Pudding, which has a whole lemon inside the pastry.

“Of all the things we eat over the Christmas holiday, the Christmas Pudding is one of those dishes we only have once a year and it needs to be special.

“I really wanted to create something that was a bit different without taking away too much from the tradition and nostalgia of Christmas. I could no longer put a sixpence inside, but I did want to put something that you could still discover – a surprise element.

“The flavours of this pudding for me encapsulate many of the tastes and flavours of Christmas and I wanted to celebrate and indulge those elements – the surprise of course being the candied orange in the centre.  I’m excited that it has caught people’s imagination and the good news is… it’s really easy to prepare.”

For more information please contact Gill Smith, Senior PR Manager, on 07887898133

Notes to Editors

Waitrose - Waitrose, the food shops of the John Lewis Partnership, has 240 shops in England, Scotland and Wales. Waitrose has three branches in Scotland – two in Edinburgh at Comely Bank and Morningside and one at Byres Road in Glasgow. Its fourth and largest store is due to open in Newton Mearns during 2011.

Kantar World Market share data for the 12 weeks ending 30th October showed total till roll growth of 8.6 per cent – more than double the growth for the total food retail market.

This growth has been driven by the success of the essential Waitrose range, an unmatchable top-tier of products including the new Duchy Originals from Waitrose, free delivery driving rapid online growth, as well as a long-term commitment to sourcing the UK’s finest local and regional foods.

Waitrose combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop – dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service. ( )

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Contact: Gill Smith, Senior PR Manager
Phone: 07887898133