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    INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Waitrose Enters Service Stations

    Drivers will be able to pick up to-go foods at two stores in service plazas.

    LONDON -- Travelers next month will be able to pick up sandwiches and ready-to-eat meals from the supermarket chain Waitrose, when the company opens its first stores at service stations, the Financial Times reported.

    To open the two slated stores, Waitrose signed a deal with Welcome Break, the UK’s second-largest motorway services operator. The stores will be about a sixth of the size of a typical Waitrose supermarket, and will be located at Oxford services on the M40 and at South Mimms on the M25, the report stated.

    The service station units will stock more than 850 product lines from a combination of Waitrose's own and other brands, including a mix of sandwiches, snacks and soft drinks, as well as convenience foods such as ready meals and groceries, the report stated.

    The stores are an effort to "grow our business and make the Waitrose brand more accessible to more people in the U.K.," Richard Hodgson, commercial director, told the Financial Times.

    Under the franchise agreement, Welcome Break owns the site, and Waitrose will provide it with products and receive a share of the profits, according to the report.

    If successful, Waitrose will look to introduce units into more of Welcome Break’s 28 service stations across the U.K. over the next 18 months, but Hodgson told the paper not all would be suitable for the concept.

    Waitrose would be "constantly reviewing ... the sales performance and tweaking the range if necessary," Hodgeon said, adding, "I think we will know within a couple of months how successful it is."

    Waitrose is also testing two convenience stores in Bristol and Nottingham, and launched a range of lower-priced products under the "essential Waitrose" banner the report stated.

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