I knew it was in the making but it was all hush-hush until now… I knew that Britain’s pride and joy of food retailing, Waitrose, was planning to land in South America with one of its product ranges, and I could not wait for it to happen.

Thankfully, I was in Chile last week and managed to find one of the shops that I knew would stock the goodies: Unimarc. And I was delighted to see their full Waitrose brochure online (you absolutely must check it out HERE!), playing to the strengths we all know in the UK: quality, tradition and Britishness.

The products were displayed very nicely and I could see they would appeal to consumers way beyond expats. Prices were fairly sensible and there was a “togetherness” in the range that made sense. I’m sure that expanding a well-loved brand abroad where it is totally unknown must be a challenge – but Waitrose had two committed people that made it possible. In my opinion, they succeeded because they were prepared to 1) listen 2) learn 3) build relationships and 4) be flexible. I had the privilege of meeting Nigel and Seb in London over 8 months ago and I immediately knew that if anyone was going to get Waitrose in South America, it was them.

With the brand now in Chile, I wanted to find out more about the process and what we can all learn from it. Here’s the response from Nigel Roberts, manager of international growth at Waitrose, exclusively for Sunny Sky Solutions:

Congratulation on the launch, how did it go?

“Excellent, we had the owner of Unimarc and the British Ambassador present at the launch. I gave a speech in Spanish which was grammatically dubious but very well received!”

 – Why did you decide to expand into Latin America? 

“The growth prospects of Latin America make it attractive. Our concentration had been dominated by looking East and we wanted to turn our attention to the West.”

– Why did you choose Chile as your first country in the region?

“Financial, governmental and regulatory stability make Chile an obvious first territory in Latin America.”

– How did you go about finding a partner? 

“Unimarc originally contacted us to help them with a small competitive threat and the relationship grew into something much more strategic.”

– What advice would you give you British companies thinking of doing business in Chile? 

“We have found Chile a very attractive place to do business, You must visit, regularly, and be genuinely interested in the language and culture – both of which are very rich. Business is conducted openly and honestly – trust and strong relations are something you can build in Chile. Give a speech in Spanish – even if it’s a bit clumsy!”


We would like to thank Nigel Roberts and Sebastian Silk – and we wish Waitrose all the very best in Chile and beyond…