Waitrose is opening a huge London depot to rapidly expand its grocery delivery business amid a surge in demand from shoppers.
The supermarket chain said it will open a six-acre warehouse in Enfield, north London, to double its online grocery orders in the capital by September.
The move comes as part of a £100 million investment to ramp up its online operations in preparation to end its current delivery contract with Ocado.
It said the distribution site will create 370 jobs, which will rise to 850 when it reaches full capacity and will be making up to 13,000 deliveries each week.
Waitrose said it has “significantly accelerated” its plans to grow its online business after first announcing its national expansion campaign in February.
It said it has speeded up the process to try to work towards meeting the “extreme” demand for online shopping driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Waitrose.com service has seen volumes increase by more than 50% to 120,000 customer orders per week since the outbreak.
Director Ben Stimson said: “Before coronavirus, Waitrose.com was already going through a period of significant expansion, with investment across our infrastructure and website.
“Enfield was planned as a big part of our expansion plans – but in fact it is now also helping us respond as best we can to the huge demand for online slots – especially from our most vulnerable customers.
“One thing that recent weeks have highlighted to us is the importance of online retail to vulnerable people.
“Our shops have always been firmly rooted in their communities but through these challenging times our partners working in shops and delivering grocery orders have been at the forefront of trying to respond to these needs in a way we couldn’t have imagined.”
Waitrose said vulnerable and elderly shoppers have been given priority for home delivery orders, with people in this group receiving more than a third of orders last week.