Waitrose May Export Prince Charles’ Line to Former Colonies

Feb 25, 2011
Bernice Hurst

While the British media
loves stories about the so-called special relationship between the U.S. and
U.K., politically, there is another special relationship that is likely to
be strengthened further in coming months. Our mutual love of one another’s
good food will soon be enhanced by the arrival of Waitrose products in American
grocery stores.

Unlike Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Channel Islands,
where they have foreign franchise operations, the chain will not be opening
its own stores. Instead, assorted products will be exported for other stores
to stock, presumably in line with what David Morton, Waitrose’s director of
international development, describes as "long term growth plans to make
the Waitrose brand accessible to more people in more places." Waitrose
products are already available in 25 countries, including the Caribbean.

were first raised by the Financial Times last September
when it reported Waitrose was "talking to North American retailers and
distributors about selling Duchy Originals products in U.S. stores. Waitrose
hopes to have a selection of the range in U.S. outlets next spring, according
to people familiar with the plans."

Duchy has been renamed Duchy Originals
from Waitrose, giving shoppers a double hit of the brand name on which to rely.
Duchy Originals was founded by Prince Charles and licensed exclusively to Waitrose
in 2009. According to the Financial
, "It
is anticipated that U.S. expansion will begin with a range of ‘quintessentially
British’ products such as biscuits, honey and jam. … Eventually,
Waitrose hopes to produce locally in the U.S."

A spokesperson from Waitrose
Communications told RetailWire this week, "Whilst
I can confirm it will involve Waitrose branded products, I’m afraid we don’t
have any more details at this stage."

Waitrose was named in January,
for the second consecutive year, as Britain’s
favourite supermarket in a survey of more than 12,000 members of consumer publication Which?.

Discussion Questions: Is this the right time for an upmarket British brand to launch in the U.S.? Will the connection between Prince Charles and Duchy Originals be a plus or minus for the brand if it enters the U.S. market?

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7 Comments on "Waitrose May Export Prince Charles’ Line to Former Colonies"

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Warren Thayer
10 years 2 months ago

Can’t articulate exactly why, but my gut says this is just not a good idea right now. Perhaps because when I think of London, I think of Indian food, not English food. But maybe there’s room for an upscale Bubble and Squeak or Haggus, I don’t know. As for the connection with Prince Charles… Americans don’t particularly care for the bloke. Hello?

Ryan Mathews
10 years 2 months ago

I can’t wait! Hope there’s a line of Prince Charles organic pub fare available soon.

I can see it all now–Prince Chuck’s Bubble & Squeak; Chuck’s Choice Spotted Dick; Buckingham Palace’s Bangers & Mash; or possibly a Scottish vegan entry, say HRH’s Hardly Haggis.

On an only slightly more serious note, I’m sure the proposed line (theirs, not mine) might do well on a limited basis is some specialty stores in the U.S. but I don’t think the moral monarchist’s personal cachet is enough to create a mass market.

Nancy Cobb
Nancy Cobb
10 years 2 months ago

After looking at the Waitrose website, I am looking forward to seeing a Waitrose department in my local supermarket. I can see why it was voted Britain’s favorite supermarket. Looks fantastic!

Bernice Hurst
10 years 2 months ago
Personally, I would have said no to my own question until I realised just how much more excited Americans are than British people about the impending royal wedding. Which of course reminded me that what I consider an extraordinary number of Americans think royalty equates to rich, glamorous and overall too too wonderful for words (only the rich bit is true). I will refrain from sharing any of the less positive (but true) adjectives which are occasionally applied. There may be cynics like Warren and Ryan but there are an awful lot of people turning up on bus tours of the village where Kate M grew up, coincidentally just a few miles from the one in which I live. As for the quality of British food, let me tell those of you who have not visited for a while that there is A LOT OF GREAT STUFF. My recent visits to the US have left me less than enthusiastic about even the fine dining restaurants to which I’ve been taken. Don’t even start me on… Read more »
Al McClain
Al McClain
10 years 2 months ago

My guess is this will do fairly well, as a specialty line. There are plenty of upscale shoppers who are bored with their everyday fare, and won’t mind another set of alternatives. I’m sure 99% of Americans have never heard of Waitrose, but, if the line looks like UK upper crust will give it a shot.

As for the Prince Charles angle, I think most Americans are blase about him but I don’t think his affiliation will be a negative and it could be a slight positive for the wealthier clientele this line should attract.

Craig Sundstrom
10 years 2 months ago

This (former) colonial really liked this article: it’s not every day the U.S. gets compared with Bahrain or the Channel Islands (which I was dismayed to find out a few years ago are really adjacent to France more than being in the middle of the Channel). And that, I suppose, sums up this whole venture…hoping novelty will attract enough attention to gain a foothold. It worked for Bernice, but whether it will work for Waitrose I don’t know; the brand itself probably isn’t much help, as I would be surprised if even 1-in-1000 Yanks have even heard the name, but maybe there really is a pent-up demand for “quintessentially British foods.” I wish them well.

Julie Stoner
Julie Stoner
10 years 2 months ago

I say, “Hurrah!” (while rolling my eyes at the rather “ugly American” comments) I am familiar with the Duchy Originals products because of my frequent trips to Britain and I’m delighted that Waitrose will be attempting an entry into U.S. markets.

The Prince’s foray into organic foods and farming has been quite successful. I would hope that Waitrose would venture beyond the “tea and biscuits” offerings into the ready meals with their wonderful flavor combinations and the beverage selection here. (There is nothing quite as refreshing on a hot summer day than elderflower cordial with sparkling water. I think it would be a hit here in the States.)

The British palate has grown up, and their food and market selections reflect that. The prince’s name or no, Waitrose has something new and different to add to the American market and table.


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