Waitrose has invested £1.5m in food development facilities at its Bracknell head office as part of its long-term focus on product innovation.

Expected to open from the middle of 2018, the facilities will include a cookery theatre for training courses in food knowledge and food development, an innovation room, and a suite of five tasting rooms where Waitrose’s food innovation team will be able to work together with suppliers on product development.

A team of seven chefs will work at the new facility, which will be led by Jonathan Moore, executive chef for brand development and innovation.

The investment aims to increase the pace of development for cutting-edge products, according to the retailer.

“Innovation is in the DNA of our business and over the years we’ve pioneered everything from the first supermarket organic food through to chocolate and ginger mince pies, which are new this Christmas,” said Waitrose’s commercial director Rupert Thomas.

“This new facility is part of our commitment to being the most innovative, high-quality food retailer in the supermarket sector.”

Bakery innovation launches have been prominent for Waitrose in the lead-up to Christmas, including the Melting Chocolate ‘Sprout’ dessert created by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal.