UK supermarket chain Waitrose today capped its best ever Christmas trading period by announcing expansion plans that will see it create 3,000 jobs this year.
The food and drinks retailer will open 39 stores in 2011, nearly doubling its rate of growth from the 20 it opened in 2010.
The new outlets will include 27 convenience stores, marking a big increase in the roll-out of its smaller store format, launched last year.
The announcement follows the company’s best Christmas trading period in which sales grew by 8.9% in the first 23 days of December, driven by strong demand for luxury Christmas products as well as store cupboard staples such as long-life milk.
The strong performance continued between Christmas and New Year when sales grew by 9.7%, as shoppers bought champagne and party food, the upmarket retailer announced today.
Managing director Mark Price said: “Our strong Christmas trading figures give us confidence for the year ahead, when we will continue to invest in the future growth of our business.”
Waitrose will open supermarkets in Jersey and Guernsey, Stratford, Raynes Park and Wimbledon in London, as well as Exeter, Marlow and Newton Mearns in Glasgow.
Convenience stores will open in locations including Old Brompton and Palmers Green in London.
The newly created jobs will be across a variety of roles, including management and specialists in meat, cheese, fish and wine.
Waitrose, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership, has 241 stores in England, Wales and Scotland and accounts for 4.1% of supermarket sales, according to Kantar World Market figures.
Its sales reached £4.5bn (€5.3bn) in the year to the end of January 2010, a 25% increase over the past two years.