Upmarket grocer Waitrose has announced the appointment of a new Retail Director with effect from January 2012.
Taking on the role presently held by Tony Solomons who will be retiring after 30 years in the business, Rob Collins, who is currently the retailer’s Personnel Director, will be tasked with leading retail operations for Waitrose branches nationwide.
As e-commerce remains a priority for the chain, which runs as part of the John Lewis Partnership, this will be a main area of focus for Collins along with overseeing the brand’s convenience and hospitality offers.
Current Divisional Registrar Helen Hyde will step into the role vacated by Collins and will oversee a directorate that delivers personnel, occupational health, learning and development support to more than 46,000 Partners.
Waitrose said that her previous role is unique in the industry in managing at board level the constitutional right of its partners to hold the business to account.
Managing Director Mark Price welcomed the pair into their new positions with the company.
“Both Rob and Helen bring to their new roles a wealth of experience and a proven track record within Waitrose – their leadership will be invaluable to their respective directorates as we enter the exciting next stages in our development,” he said.
In his current role as Personnel Director, Collins presented the chain’s strong week of sales for the week ending November 12th 2011.
Overall weekly sales were up 3.7 per cent compared to the same period last year, although Collins pointed out that this result had been skewed by a 25 per cent off wine promotion which ran at this time last year.
As the deal did not affect sales from Thursday to Saturday, the retailer believes that “a more meaningful figure” is the 8.3 per cent increase in sales seen over that three-day period.
Customers appear to be drawn to snacks and easy-to-cook meals as they favour staying in with TV favourites during the colder weather.
Top sellers included popcorn, which saw sales double last week, pretzels, which saw sales increase by 34 per cent, and sharing-sized bags of crisps, which sold 71 per cent more than the same period in 2010.
Simple meals saw sales rise, with ‘menu from’ meals going up by 28 per cent, while shoppers also bought 21 per cent more chilled desserts and 18 per cent more frozen pizzas.
Christmas is a primary focus for the grocer, which has seen great interest from the public in their recently-aired Christmas advertising campaign.
The TV ads, which have proved popular on YouTube, have led to sales of Heston’s mince pies almost double on the week before, while Delia’s Christmas cake ingredients are performing strongly.
Shoppers are keen to snap up festive products, as sales of the retailer’s small poinsettia plants are currently up 17 per cent.