British supermarket Waitrose reports strong sales in the first quarter, outshining its rivals in the process.
British supermarket Waitrose reports strong sales in the first quarter of 2014, outshining its rivals in the process.

Supermarket chain Waitrose has reported a 6.5% rise in sales in the first quarter, outshining its rivals in the process.

Between high-end grocers Waitrose and Marks & Spencer and bargain basements Aldi and Lidl; Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons are being squeezed as shoppers look away from the conventional four.

The report from Waitrose says that it now owns 5% of the market share, according to researcher Kantar.

The John Lewis Partnership run store, which is owned by its employees, is the third fastest growing supermarket, sitting only behind Aldi and Lidl.

This year's late Easter had an impact on most aspects of retail, and Waitrose was no exception. But looking at the bigger picture, the store is happy with its results. As Waitrose managing director, Mark Price, says in the statement: "As expected, divisional sales in the week ending 26 April were 2.1% lower than last year explained by the shorter trading week with the closure of most shops on Easter Sunday.

"A more meaningful picture is provided by comparing the two-week Easter trading period this year with the equivalent fortnight last year, which show a divisional sales uplift of 7%."

Waitrose says that a large chunk of the success in the quarter ending 26 April is put down to its website, as grocery sales through jumped by 79% for the first quarter which says it has been "boosted by our successful marketing and promotional activity."

In the first quarter, Waitrose also opened up eight new stores in the first quarter, which "are making a good contribution to our sales growth." It will also open up two new stores in the coming weeks.

The grocery store is also evolving as it introduces a number of new concepts to its branches. It is currently trialling bakery and patisserie concepts, juice bars, deli and wine grazing areas in certain stores.

The gardening section has also been in good stead as Price says: "Our customers' second-favourite hobby, after cooking, is gardening and we're continuing to grow our offer, with sales up 22.4 per cent in the quarter and gardening pods have now been rolled out to 180 branches."