Mr P Falconer
Peter Falconer joined the Partnership in 1968 as Director of Buying, Food, designate, taking up the position officially in July of the same year. His previous career had been with J Sainsbury where he was Grocery Buyer for four years, having joined as a graduate trainee from the University of Durham.
At his retirement party in 1996, The Chairman, Stuart Hampson, commented on the lack of variety – on the surface – of Mr Falconer’s career, and the difficulty this presented when preparing a resume of his time in the Partnership. “I was faced with potentially the shortest retirement speech I was ever likely to make” said Mr Hampson. On looking at his file he had found ‘this young chap’ described as ‘impressive, energetic and innovative’. “And it’s said the same thing ever since.”
However The Chairman pointed out that Mr Falconer had been instrumental in the great changes that had taken place in Waitrose since 1968, particularly in the development of own-label products, fresh food lines and the emphasis placed on quality – “He was a gifted merchant and negotiator.” Encouraged by the Waitrose MD, John Foster, Mr Falconer extended his buyers’ ranges, increased by the desire to hunt out and help the small suppliers who couldn’t come up with the volume that the big competitors demanded. At a time when the balance of power was shifting to the huge supermarket chains, Waitrose was still trying to nurture the suppliers that could give its range a distinction.
Replying to the speech, Mr Falconer echoed Mr Hampson’s view that Waitrose had changed enormously in the past 28 years. “We had an annual turnover of £17 million. We now more or less take that in three days’ trading.”
Taken from The Gazette and Spedan’s Partnership.