Value Chain Sustainability in the Waitrose Supermarkets Company in the UK

Subject: Business
Type: Evaluation Essay
Pages: 8
Word count: 2058
Topics: Accounting, Business Ethics, Community, Management, Marketing


Value chain sustainability involves the long-term development, growth, and protection of the environmental, economic, and social value through the organisational capacity to engage the necessary stakeholders in its production. It focuses on creating equal benefit opportunities for the business, its environment, and the people through a strategic approach to production and supply chain management. The Waitrose is one such business whose operational goals in the United Kingdom reflect the need to leverage the benefits sourced from its services and commodities by engaging with the keys stakeholders along its supply chain. As a retailing chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, Waitrose has a responsibility to coordinate the efforts of its suppliers, distributors, and employees to ensure the achievement of a sustained value through production. This paper focuses on a critical evaluation of the Waitrose Supermarket’s value chain sustainability strategy by reporting the effectiveness, approaches used, and its impact on practice. The aim of the critical evaluation is to identify the prevailing loopholes in Waitrose’s value chain sustainability strategy for recommending better approaches that can be used in future. 

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Waitrose’s Value Chain Sustainability

Waitrose Business Overview

The Waitrose Supermarket’s value chain sustainability strategy aims at creating value, convenience, and experience through retail shopping. In this case, the company focuses on the meeting the needs of the target customers while protecting the environment and ensuring stakeholder value. With a headquarter in Bracknell, Berkshire, the company operates more than 350 retail stores in the United Kingdom and approximately 30 small-scale grocery stores that are designed to ensure convenient access to quality foods (Waitrose, 2017). Waitrose also operates an online shopping platform that coordinates the customers and the sellers through then internet-based communication platforms to ensure convenience in shopping (Waitrose, 2017).

Waitrose’s sustainable business in the United Kingdom is seen through the capacity to supply the UK retail market with quality groceries and food products in coordination with the farmers and the agricultural sector improvement. The firm has satisfactorily served the UK and its international markets segments through the sale of environmentally friendly food products and groceries. The height of the company’s success was seen in 2011 when it obtained a royal warrant to supply wine, food, and related products to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles British royalties (Waitrose, 2017). The situation has further led to the organisation’s growth in the market by focusing on meeting the current needs of the people through the sustainable food retailing business.  

Waitrose’s Value Chain Sustainability

 The sustainability of the food retailing company’s business is built on the capacity to optimise the business benefit for the people, the company, and the environment. Waitrose’s sustainability strategy involves supporting the food production sector in the United Kingdom to ensure food security in the community. For instance, through the engagement with the farmers, Waitrose provides knowledge, skills, and production resources to empower the farmers through informed food production without jeopardy to the health and the well-being of the people (Lanka et al., 2017). Waitrose’s supplier-retailer relationship is designed to improve the quality of the food and groceries offered the UK market by reducing the health and environmental hazards associated with the consumption of these products. It is an important tactic to ensure supply of high-quality food products through empowerment and sustainability practice appreciation among the farmer suppliers for the retailing supermarket.

Through the Waitrose Foundation program that is aimed at improving farming in the United Kingdom, the company contributes prolifically to the societal development. In the Waitrose Foundation operations, every stage of the supply chain, for instance, supplying, logistics, processing, retailing, and distribution makes monetary contributions to the Waitrose Foundation, which then re-channel the money back to the farmers’ society to facilitate the necessary food improvements in agriculture (Arora, 2014). The sustainability strategy for Waitrose ensures the future food security in the UK region and continuous supply of quality agricultural products that form a large percentage of its stock (Arora, 2014). Evidently, the Waitrose Foundation has transformed the company’s supply chain effectiveness, as farmers are capable of consistently improving the quality of food supplies through the re-investment (Arora, 2014). For Waitrose, the strategy is a corporate social responsibility measure that is aimed at developing a company reputation for goodwill (Jones, Hillier, and Comfort, 2014). 

In this strategy, Waitrose does not necessarily focus on its profit value rather the company is interested in looking up to the farmers in the UK and other parts of the world to improve the quality and quantity of food production to meet the needs of the society (Christopher, 2016). As a result, Waitrose is one of the top-selling retail stores in the UK due to the strategic impact on the brand equity (Jones et al., 2014). The Waitrose Foundation also makes it possible for the company to improve the quality of its supplies over time by maintaining customer-centred service provision and production at all stages of the supply chain (Christopher, 2016). In light of the Waitrose’ sustainability goal to offer value, convenience, and experience through retail shopping, the Waitrose Foundation paves the way for continued improvements in food production and supply to meet the sustainability goal, which gives the customers a unique retailing experience. Stakeholder value also increases over operational time due to the company’s capacity to serve a wide pool of customers translating into significant profit margins (Caniato, Golini, and Kalchschmidt, 2013). Investors are in a position to benefit from the Waitrose Foundation strategy through the attraction of more potential buyers and business stakeholders like sponsors whose impact reflects better business outcomes. The Waitrose Foundations was adopted in 2005 to give the company an opportunity of supporting and interacting with farmers from African parts such as Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya (Waitrose, 2017). Through this, there is improved production of fruits and food products in the regions to support the third world communities through ready availability of quality food products for healthy nourishment (Waitrose, 2017). 

Also, the company engages in business-suppliers interaction through the partnership with the Fairtrade Foundation. The Fairtrade Foundation partnership was established in 2015 to facilitate the ‘treating people fairly’ campaign that is has seen Waitrose Company grow significantly to satisfy the needs of many customers in the United Kingdom and across the world (Waitrose, 2017). Through the partnership, the Waitrose Supermarkets Company intends to works in collaboration with the society to ensure sustainability of the supply chain by empowering the suppliers with knowledge, skills, and resources for quality production that aims to meet the needs of the people through quality groceries and other retail food products and services (Dekker, 2003). Further, the Waitrose-Fairtrade Foundation partnership aims to develop consistency in the quality of supplies to meet the needs of the people and the market expectations with the aim of creating business value through high volumes of sales and an expanding market share that guarantees the organisation’s financial growth and stability. 

In the value chain sustainability approach, Waitrose is determined to ensure the social development in the world society as a way of guaranteeing its market relevance. This is built to the premise that the business relies on the society’s need for priced quality food and grocery products that befit to the growing health concerns requiring the people to consume hygienically prepared and nutritious foods. For this reason, its success depends on the availability of the proper standards and quantity of food products that can be purchased, processed, repackaged, and sold under the Waitrose’s brand name. The value chain sustainability measures are adopted to ensure effective engagement with the agricultural producers and other supply chain organisations and individuals to regulate the value of the food and groceries.

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Besides, the Waitrose Company is an essential player in the research and innovation sector to ensure improvements in the food production sector. The company works hand in hand with the Lancaster University to explore new food production methods for agricultural empowerment and development towards sustainability. One of the key aims of the Waitrose’s research initiative is to empower the key food suppliers and producers with current knowledge on ways to use technology and advanced farming safely to meet the food demands in the UK and the global market. Research also equips individual farmers with knowledge, skills, and experience that guarantees future quality agricultural production in the region. According to Seuring (2013), research is one of the most potent strategic improvement measures in a supply chain since its sustainably benefits producers, suppliers, manufacturers, and product users depending on the themes and areas studied. 

The Waitrose Agronomy Group collaborates with scholars from the Lancaster University and other research partners to ensure the spread of relevant knowledge about environmental impacts and better agricultural production in the entire Waitrose supply chain and among the growers (The Waitrose, 2017). The strategic measure is aimed at developing a culture of sustainable production to maintain the quality of consumer products and keep the environment safe. The Waitrose Supermarkets Company’s research initiative is responsible for the improved business performance in the recent decades. Besides, the sustainable production ensures the company’s goodwill reputation as a customer attraction strategy. The company seeks competitive advantage through a sustainable supply chain to deal with UK retail market rivals such as Tesco PLC and Sudbury’s (Davies et al., 2017). Continued product improvement through research attracts more potential buyers owing to the guarantee to satisfy their needs for quality food and grocery products. Moreover, Waitrose can maintain a culture of quality and efficiency in production along its entire supply chain. In another perspective, Waitrose benefits from the developed reputation that attracts more potential buyers and stakeholders due to the notion of customer-based production and the socio-economic development measures that empowers the farmers to self-sustainability through research and innovation in agricultural production (Lanka et al., 2017). 

Other than direct research, Waitrose support innovations and environmental protection as a way of adhering to the business ethics across the entire supply chain. The firm achieves the objective through advocacy for doing the right thing from farming to products delivery system. For instance, the safety and hygiene policy for the Waitrose Supermarkets has enabled it to practice effective safety production and advocate for green farming. Eventually, Waitrose’s supermarkets and retail stores are known to offer environmentally safe and friendly products. For instance, Waitrose insists on the use of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) systems to reduce the risks and hazards associated with the consumption of the food sold at various stores across its market (Waitrose Supermarkets, 2017). 

Also, Waitrose advocates for the Integrated Crop Management (ICM) in fruits and vegetable production with key practices such as maintaining the environmental threshold requirements while applying sprays, foliar, and other organo-chemical substances that might subject the soil and other natural assets to depletion threats (Lanka et al., 2017). Further, Waitrose encourages organic farming through green agricultural innovation in food production. It is possible to achieve the objective through resource support and policy formation to ensure the suppliers and growers refrain from the use of hazardous production methods (Spence and Rinaldi, 2014). One typical policy is the optimal alignment of the farming goals and objectives with the Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) requirements. According to Spence and Rinaldi (2014), these strategies enhance Waitrose’s capacity to control quality and specifications in production and supplies due to the individuals’ and organisations’ compliance with the company’s expectations.

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Waitrose’s value chain sustainability reflects the moderation of the suppliers’ capacity to adhere and execute the environmental and quality food production policies and strategies by ensuring financial support and optimal engagement (Caniato et al., 2013). The approach has seen the development of key partnerships with Fairtrade Foundation and the suppliers to ensure consistency in retailing through quality and safe supply of groceries and food products. The company’s engagement with the farmers also paved the way for the Waitrose Foundation, which aims at supporting quality production in agricultural farming society through financial support and training. As a result, Waitrose gains by controlling the production quality and efficiency along the supply chain to maintain its reputation in the food retailing market. Further, Waitrose Supermarkets has developed a goodwill reputation by supporting the development of the society through corporate social responsibility and effective ethics through its supply chain to create value for the stakeholders such as customers, investors, and the host community. The approach is responsible for the company’s top-selling capacity on the UK retail market and from global perspectives. 

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  8. Seuring, S., 2013. A review of modeling approaches for sustainable supply chain management. Decision support systems, 54(4), pp. 1513-1520. 
  9. Spence, L. J. and Rinaldi, L., 2014. Governmentality in accounting and accountability: A case study of embedding sustainability in a supply chain. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 39(6), pp. 433-452. 
  10. Waitrose Supermarkets. (2017). We’re doing the right thing by farmers. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 December 2017].
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