Waitrose is to team up with Deliveroo to offer rapid delivery of online groceries in a service set to launch as rival Marks & Spencer begins selling food online via Ocado.
On Tuesday, the grocer will begin a trial with Deliveroo in five Waitrose shops – Notting Hill Gate in London, Bracknell by its head office, Clifton, Surbiton and Fitzroy Street in Cambridge.
The 12 week trial will see customers in those areas able to order and have the products in as little as 30 minutes, the retailer said in an internal memo, seen by the Evening Standard.
“If successful, then we expect to extend the trial into more locations before looking at further opportunities to roll out on a larger scale,” the memo said.
Deliveroo customers will be able to pick from more than 500 products including ready meals and fresh foods.
Deliveroo works with 35,000 restaurants around the UK and already has tie-ups with Aldi and Marks & Spencer.
The move comes at an intriguing time for Waitrose, M&S and Ocado, with the latter two set to launch a long-awaited M&S food service online on Tuesday.
Ocado and Waitrose have severed ties after an at times acrimonious two decades where the online grocers has delivered Waitrose’s goods alongside its own.
Waitrose executive director James Bailey said: “We have laid down a marker for our future strategy with the growth of Waitrose.com and Waitrose Rapid and this gives us another opportunity to give our customers a taste of what the future of convenience shopping could look like for us.
“Our trial with Deliveroo has huge potential to give new and existing customers greater choice and flexibility for when and how they want to shop with Waitrose.”
Deliveroo’s Ajay Lakhani said: “We are excited about working with such a brilliant British brand, bringing people the food they need and want, on demand.”
Waitrose is part of the John Lewis Partnership, the mutual which is trying to revamp in the face of the coronavirus crisis under new chairman Sharon White. The Standard revealed in July that White planned to axe the company bonus, shut a London office and close stores. The department store retailer is shutting eight shops.