Waitrose is understood to be redesigning the in-store cafeterias across its network of more than 200 UK supermarkets.
‘Waitrose’s in-house team is conducting a great deal of customer research at the moment, seeking brand insights into how people use the cafés,’ says an unnamed source close to the project.
The group is believed to be working with multidisciplinary consultancy Mellor & Scott Design, which has been appointed ‘to draw up initial concepts for the cafés and develop a new look and feel for them’, according to the source.
The supermarket’s owner, John Lewis Partnership, is understood to have appointed Mellor & Scott about two weeks ago, on the strength of its working relationship with the consultancy’s creative director, Gee Furminger.
The former What If Innovation designer, who also held the position of concept designer at John Lewis for six months last year, joined Mellor & Scott about four months ago.
The consultancy is understood to be preparing for its first design meeting with Waitrose in about a fortnight.
‘It is very early days still, and the look and feel is currently completely open, but the consultancy will be working on ideas over the next month, helping the supermarket to visualise a new look,’ says the source.
Once the cafés have been rolled out, Mellor & Scott may be retained to work on a new design for the supermarkets’ store interiors. A spokesman for Waitrose says it has ‘no firm plans at this time’.
Mellor & Scott was set up about ten months ago, cofounded by design director and former Blue Jam senior product designer Paul Mellor. It is currently engaged in creating medical products and sunglasses, as well as its retail interiors projects.
The current Waitrose cafés feature light-coloured wooden tables, chairs and counters.
Waitrose is diversifying its business, opening a series of convenience stores – beginning with Nottingham in December 2008 – and plans to move into the petrol station retail sector.
It has also just struck a deal with Boots to sell its food products in the high street chemist. In return, Boots will set up its own-branded pharmacy concessions in some of the supermarkets.