Waitrose was founded in 1904 by Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor. The trio opened their first shop in Acton Hill, West London . The name “Waitrose” (a portmanteau of the remaining founders’ names – Taylor left in 1906) was adopted in 1908. The major change came in 1937 when the business was taken over by the John Lewis Partnership and the then-160 Waitrose employees were made “partners”, or co-owners of the business.
The first Waitrose supermarket opened in Streatham, London in 1955, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the company started to grow outside of the capital and the South East regions and into the North and West of England.
In the 1980s, Waitrose became the first major chain to begin selling organic food.
Aong term goal for Waitrose is to have around 400 stores (double its current business) throughout the UK by 2017, with a larger presence in Wales , the South West, the North of England, and Scotland .
Over the years, the company has expanded its store portfolio by purchasing a number of stores from the likes of Morrisons and Somerfield. In January 2009 Waitrose completed its acquisition of 13 Co-operative (Co-op) sites, and confirmed plans to build nine new stores in 2009.
The 22 new stores will add 4,000 partners to the business and increase its portfolio to 220 supermarkets, marking the largest expansion in the company’s history and boosting its nationwide presence.
Waitrose has also opened a number of smaller market-town stores and convenience stores in order to expand the business and go head to head with the likes of Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local and the Simply Food stores from Marks and Spencer.