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Bell Pottinger North - Client News
Thursday, March 08, 2007
UK's Favourite Retailer 'Perfect Match' For Hale Barns

The UK's favourite retailer is Waitrose - and it's official, according to the BBC's news website today. In a survey of 6,000 shoppers asked to rate a range of stores on their range of products, convenience, quality, price, service, ambience, facilities and layout, Waitrose came top of the shops, beating sister company John Lewis into second place.

Here in the North West, Waitrose is planning to create a new store in Hale Barns, home to some of the most desirable residential streets in the country, according to the Street Rankings 2007 National Report. The retailer's decision to look at the proposed redevelopment of The Square, Hale Barns, rather than other out-of-town development sites is a clear indication of Waitrose's community-focused business philosophy.

Commenting on today's survey results, Raymond Gross, director of Citybranch, the would-be developers of The Square, said: "We have always believed that the introduction of Waitrose would actually enhance the quality of life currently on offer to the residents of Hale Barns. This is a quality retailer, totally committed to supporting local suppliers and food producers, developing the range of produce on offer to match the requirements of local shoppers. It has always seemed like a perfect match to us and today's findings simply underline the position of Waitrose as the retailer of choice for the majority of shoppers.

"Those opposing our redevelopment proposals have claimed that Waitrose would be too expensive, but that just isn't borne out by the facts - as these results indicate. It is particularly heartening to see Waitrose at the top of the poll, as all employees are active shareholders in the business, giving it an ethical edge which many of its competitors just don't have."

The annual survey is conducted by Verdict Research and the sample is based on those stores which shoppers polled say they visit regularly. Last year's winner was Waitrose's sister company, John Lewis.

This latest news comes hot on the heels of the parent company's financial results, announced today. John Lewis Partnership has recorded growth in all areas of the business, including an excellent performance by Waitrose, with sales up by 11% and profit up 5% on last year's figures. As a consequence, £155m is to be distributed to every one of its employee-partners in the form of an 18% bonus.

Commenting on the Partnership's excellent year-end performance, Chairman Sir Stuart Hampson said: "These results show how our Partnership model can provide the profitability to create a sustainable and ambitiously expanding business, can win the approval and loyalty of our customers and can reward the achievement of
our Partners through provision for a good pension in retirement and a bonus worth over nine weeks' pay."

- ends -

For further information on today's BBC news report on the Verdict Research survey, please visit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6429627.stm.

For further details of the Street Rankings 2007 Annual Report, please visit: www.mouseprice.com/articles/street_rankings_2007_national.aspx.

For a full copy of the Waitrose financial year-end media release, please visit: www.johnlewispartnership.co.uk.

For the latest update on Citybranch's proposals for redevelopment of The Square, Hale Barns, please visit: www.thesquarehalebarns.co.uk.

Press contact: Deborah Garritty/Chris Warham at Bell Pottinger North
01625 506444


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