Waitrose and Boots revise tie-up

Waitrose signSupermarket Waitrose will no longer stock beauty products from health chain Boots after a trial failed to meet the expectations of both businesses.

The tie-up, launched in March 2010, was seen as a chance for both businesses to improve their offering for customers and to compete against the UK's top four supermarkets.

But Waitrose has decided to pull Boots products, such as its No7 skincare and cosmetics brand, from the shelves of 13 stores where the trial was conducted. It is understood that customers reacted poorly to the change and complained about no longer being able to buy some Waitrose products.

A Waitrose spokeswoman said: "It didn't meet the expectations of either partner. But that's the point of having a trial - to learn what works. The products will be replaced by Waitrose own-label or branded products."

The 13 trial branches were in Dorchester, Westbury Park, Hersham, Ringwood, Worthing, Bury St Edmunds, Lichfield, Meanwood, Nailsea, Finchley, Lincoln, Wandsworth and Sudbury.

However, Boots, owned by Alliance Boots, will continue to sell Waitrose food lines, such as sandwiches and snacks, which are offered in about 34 stores. And Waitrose said the changed arrangements will not impact its pharmacy deal with Alliance Boots, and it will keep its Boots-branded chemists in 14 stores.

Boots sells its products through a range of other retailers internationally, such as US giant Target.

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When the tie-up was first launched, Richard Hodgson, commercial director at Waitrose, said: "We want to make Waitrose accessible to more people in more places and this exciting partnership will help us achieve this goal - and we believe our customers will be delighted to buy Boots loved and trusted health and beauty products and toiletries in our shops."
Both Boots and Waitrose had a strong Christmas. Alliance Boots said its UK retail division, which has more than 2,500 stores, saw like-for-like sales grow 4.1% in the five weeks to December 31, while group revenues increased by 14.1% compared to the previous year.

Waitrose, which has 271 shops across the country, said like-for-like sales in December increased 3.8% on last year, after it recorded its highest-ever sales for a single week in the run-up to Christmas.