Our Business

Photo:190 Acton Lane, 1914

190 Acton Lane, 1914

John Lewis Partnership Archive collection

Photo:Interior Waitrose Streatham 1955

Interior Waitrose Streatham 1955

John Lewis Partnership Archive A/578/c18

Photo:High Bay Warehouse, Bracknell 1974

High Bay Warehouse, Bracknell 1974

John Lewis Partnership Archive collection A/2802

Photo:Waitrose at a welcome Break service station 2010

Waitrose at a welcome Break service station 2010

John Lewis Partnership Archive collection

A short history of Waitrose

By Judy Faraday

Waitrose first appeared on the high street in 1904 when Wallace Wyndham Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor opened their shop in Acton.  They managed to create a successful business selling a wide range of grocery products.  Their high standards and keen pricing ensured that the business grew, with Waite concentrating on the buying, Rose working behind the scenes on the accounts and Taylor working on the shop floor as the branch manager.  After two years Taylor left the business leaving Waite and Rose who formed Waitrose Ltd in 1908.

Over the next few years the two men were able to acquire several more small grocery shops in the Acton area.  Waite also diversified into the wholesale trade supplying the army camp at Catterick when war broke out in 1914.  However, during World War I Arthur Rose was injured and from that time onwards Wallace Waite took over the main responsibilities of running the shops.

The business continued to develop after Rose left in 1924 and the chain grew to include branches from Windsor to Gerrards Cross.  Waite continued to supply these more affluent areas but also traded in less profitable locations developing a group of shops he called Wyndhams.

By 1937 Waite was looking for someone to take over the business and maintain the high standards he had instilled over the years.  After a chance meeting with Michael Watkins, the Director of Trading for the John Lewis Partnership the ten shops and 160 staff joined the Partnership on 1st October.  Waite remained in the business until he retired in 1940. 

The next major change in the fortunes of Waitrose was the result of the move to self service shopping in the early 1950s.  The first shops to become self service were Schofield & Martin, a small chain of grocery shops based around Southend. By 1955 Waitrose had opened its first supermarket in Streatham with 2,500 square feet of selling space.  By the early 1970s there were 50 branches, some still small self service shops but more and more larger supermarkets.  This led to the construction of a new distribution centre at Bracknell enabling the business to grow at a much faster rate. 

By Waitrose centenary in 2004 the division had expanded to over 200 shops including the acquisition of branches from other chains including Morrisons and Somerfield.  By this time the Leckford farm estate in Hampshire which the Partnership owned had become part of Waitrose.  There followed a period of change involving the development of internet shopping, branches abroad and smaller format shops.

This page was added by Judy Faraday on 09/07/2012.
Comments about this page

I found the information on this site really helpful and interesting

By T Brown
On 17/03/2013

good to know where the name "Waitrose" came from. Helen

By Helen Newton
On 18/04/2013

Thanks - I have learned a lot about my favourite stores.

By Gillian Bryan
On 18/04/2013

Interesting to see how integrity and dedication preserved a long standing business..welldone Waitrose

By Daniel Olu
On 28/05/2013

Interesting history and nice website, thanks.

By Tim Keats
On 29/05/2013

I found it most interesting and the photos were nice to see. I contacted the Crowborough Waitrose branch and they were able to get me some Bloom's salamis and my favourite Rakusen's Matzos. They were very kind and considerate for me. Thanks for being so helpful.

By Prof. Tom Diamant
On 27/07/2013

Nice to read what happen to Wallace Wyndham Waite and Arthur Rose, Mr Waite and Mr Rose in forming Waitrose. But what happened to David Taylor, Mr Taylor?

By David Dance
On 05/08/2013

Very interesting information. I've always enjoyed and appreciated Waitrose's products, ethics, attitude and service since finding my first one in Witney in the early '70s. At the time they seemed to be the only people who stocked, amongst other things, a very good range of tinned fruit in juice (rather than syrup). Thank you for your continued work ethic.

By Sue Threlfall
On 10/09/2013

Successful story ...........and it never ends....

By Mbashir
On 11/09/2013

Thank you for the very interesting background information. It has been invaluable to my first assignment in my first year at Sheffield Hallam University. I chose to follow Waitrose for a business report due to it's present day standing and work ethos. The fact that you use local producers wherever possible is why, for me, you stand above all other supermarkets. Keep up the good work.

By Tracy
On 11/11/2013

A very interesting page , my husband had said it was probably named after 2 or more individuals, I was sceptical but how right he was. Lovely to read all about Mr. Waite and Mr. Rose and great to see the 'photos of them.

By Bernice
On 11/12/2013

A really interesting story, enjoyable to discover where this amazing shop has come from - the heritage makes it even more special. Particularly fascinating to see photos of the development over time and Mr.Waite and Mr.Rose themselves!

By Sophia
On 09/04/2014

I work at a new Waitrose store in Yorkshire at a Welcome Break service station. All this information is shown/given to you during your first couple of meetings as an employee but it's so nice to have found a place to look more into it. Fantastic! They built the foundations of a fantastic company! I wonder if they had any idea how successful and huge Waitrose would become?

By Kaye
On 14/04/2014

Gerarrds Cross, not Gerrard Cross. But an interesting history, thank you!

By Henry Ellis
On 09/10/2014

What an interesting story - it was wonderful to read the Waitrose history. I am quite a new Waitrose customer, but I am sure I will be a constant one!


By Sylvia Shires
On 24/11/2014

A very helpful assistant in Waitrose at Newark suggested that I look on this site.  I found it really interesting and am so glad that I took her advice and read it.

By Anne on 26/11/14

By Anne Swan
On 14/11/2014

A totally fascinating story!

By Patrick John Gordon Shaw
On 26/03/2015

What a really interesting read, from little acorns big trees grow. I love the old pictures and what they are wearing.

By Sarah carney
On 09/04/2015

A fascinating story especially interested to hear the first supermarket was in Streatham . Its about time they returned to Streatham. 

By Bapimaju
On 08/09/2015

A piece of Waitrose history that seems to have been missed: Wallace Wyndham Waite and his sister Bertha were born in Moat Road, East Grinstead (West Sussex) in 1881 and 1882 respectively. Bertha married Arthur Rose in 1910. So both the Waite and Rose names have links with East Grinstead. Wallace's father William was working on the Lewes to East Grinstead railway, which was under construction at the time. Part of this line is now the Bluebell Railway. More information can be found on the Facebook page of "About East Grinstead".

By Roy Henderson
On 22/05/2017

What a fantastic website. Really lovely to see the history about the successful waitrose. The story of Mr Wait , Mr Rose and Mr Taylor is certainly a good one and one certainly not to be forgotten. It would be nice to see more of the history of waitrose displayed in the branches today.

By david
On 08/08/2017

if you check out, on Google street view, the address of the store in the photo at the top of the page (190 Acton Lane) you will see that the premises are still standing but are now residential. What was the old store entrance is now a window.

By KenC
On 18/10/2017