One of Britain's best-loved retailers has teamed up with Transport for London (TfL) to open a new store in an iconic underground location.
Waitrose has announced that it will be the first supermarket to launch on the TfL network by taking over a disused station on the Piccadilly line.
The concourse at Down Street station will be redeveloped to create a unique retail space for TfL customers. No access will be available from ground level, but passengers will be able to alight at the supermarket as part of their usual journey. To celebrate the opening, the station will be renamed Little Waitrose and will appear on the tube map between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner.
Little Waitrose Tube station is located on a quiet residential street off Piccadilly. It opened on the Great Northern Piccadilly & Brompton Railway on 15 March 1907 and closed on 22 May 1932 due to low passenger usage.
Over the last ten months, TfL has been working with the retailer to refit the station behind the scenes. Over 20 jobs have been created, and all employees will become Partners in the John Lewis Partnership.
The completed supermarket will include a fresh bread kitchen and fully stocked wine selection, as well as Click and Collect services for commuters in a hurry. State-of-the-art checkout technology will be used to speed customers through the store, with the aim that all purchases can be completed before the next train arrives.
Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at TfL, said: “Down Street's secret rooms have played an important role in shaping the London that we know today. Now the dark chambers used by Winston Churchill for his wartime cabinet are to be brought back to life. This unique partnership with Waitrose showcases how we are opening up our assets to Londoners and delivering value for fare payers.”
The interior design of the new station will combine modern styling with heritage detail. Early 20th century roundels will be used throughout, while a mosaic on the central service staircase will feature Winston Churchill in a variety of heroic poses. On the platforms full-length digital advertising screens will be used to enhance the Waitrose brand and highlight key product deals available in store.
Trains will be scheduled to stop at Little Waitrose as part of the usual timetable. Journey times will be extended by approximately one minute, but this disbenefit is mitigated by the enhanced retail opportunity provided for all passengers.
Little Waitrose station will be open throughout normal operating hours on weekdays, and overnight on Saturday mornings when the Night Tube begins. Regrettably the station will only be able to open for six hours on Sundays, and trains will run through without stopping outside these times.
Stuart Anderson, Head of Retail at TfL, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have Waitrose on board as we continue to improve the services on offer for our customers as they use the transport network. Their brand is a brilliant addition to our commercial mix and creates an offering that speaks to our consumers' needs for a retail experience that fits around their busy lifestyles.”
The westbound platform will be faced by displays of fresh vegetables and refrigerated units, while the eastbound platform will feature a deli counter and fresh fish facility. Within the store there will be a focus on evening meals and food to go, including fresh sandwiches, wraps and sushi, as well as a selection of fresh produce and ingredients, celebration cakes, freshly cut flowers and store cupboard staples.
In a unique development, Little Waitrose is to become the UK's first major supermarket to operate a cashless store. Customers will be able to pay for their shopping basket using their Oyster or contactless card, and are reminded to touch in and touch out to ensure that their bagged items are paid for before leaving.
Jackie Wharton, Managing Director of Waitrose Convenience, said: “Opening in this flagship setting is an exciting opportunity for us to respond to how today's customers wish to shop. Our convenience model is now more flexible than ever, especially as payment methods and ranges continue to evolve, and we look forward to bringing enhanced choice and value to commuters on the Piccadilly line.”
Notes to Editors:
» TfL sought commercial partners at Down Street station via a competitive tendering process with full-colour brochure.
» The opening of Little Waitrose heralds the launch of a progressive move forward in releasing other remarkable sites and assets that currently lie untapped – thousands of square metres of prime raw space; creating new capacity and delivering extraordinary development opportunities in choice and profitable areas of the Capital.
» Further roll-outs of branded retail are planned at other disused stations, including a Jamie's Italian at Brompton Road, a Bannatynes Zumba Experience at York Road and a Toby Carvery at North Weald.
» In a ground-breaking deal TfL will take 1p in every pound spent at Little Waitrose, providing significant reinvestment back into the transport network (or plugging gaping holes in the budget should the other Mayor get in).
» Museum tours of Down Street station will have to cease once the new supermarket opens, but transport fans are expected to flock to the new store once it costs less than £75 to visit.
» One luggage area in each Piccadilly line carriage will be reserved for those carrying more than three bags of Waitrose shopping.
» Images are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tflpress/sets/72157649902030724/
» Little Waitrose station will open to passenger traffic on Friday June 31st.