Waitrose to bring back free hot drinks for loyalty card members | waitrose

Waitrose must restore the free coffee offer it controversially withdrew from members of its loyalty card, in a bid to halt the supermarket’s dwindling fortunes as customers tighten their belts.

The chain halted the offer for the first few months of the pandemic, but after a trial run earlier this year, it is restoring the benefit for its myWaitrose cardholders to its stores next month.

The John Lewis Partnership-owned supermarket is re-establishing the edge after reporting a drop in sales last month as shoppers sought cheaper rivals during the cost-of-living crisis.

Its free coffee offer has had a checkered history since its introduction in 2013, with Waitrose in 2015 having to remind members who wanted to drink their hot drink at one of the ‘label’ cafes to buy a snack first . Long queues eventually prompted the supermarket in 2017 to insist customers make a purchase for a drink, after the offer gained popularity with students and non-spending visitors.

Under the relaunched offer, MyWaitrose cardholders must make a purchase and bring their own mug to claim a maximum of one hot drink per day. Americanos, lattes (from ‘grass-fed’ cows), cappuccinos or just a humble cup of tea will be available when the offer is relaunched across Waitrose’s 331 UK stores (excluding garages and petrol stations) from November 7.

Waitrose said its loyalty cardholders will now also get better free coffee, switching to premium coffee beans as it announces a new partnership with Caffè Nero.

Charlotte Di Cello, Commercial Director of Waitrose, said: “Our customers loved the myWaitrose free coffee offer, so we’re delighted to bring it back, featuring premium beans from The Nero Roasting Company.

Will Stratton-Morris, managing director of Caffè Nero UK, which has 650 stores, said it “felt like a natural collaboration”, with customers from each business enjoying discounts and mutual benefits.

Waitrose last month reported a 5% fall in year-on-year sales in the first half to £3.6bn, with operating profit down more than £90m to £432m . According to data from Kantar, shoppers have shifted en masse to discount supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi, with the latter now having almost double Waitrose’s market share in the UK.

The upscale supermarket scrapped another popular offer for loyalty cardholders in February this year, a free newspaper with a £10 spend. A spokesperson said there were no plans to reinstate the offer.

Christy J. Olson