Rumours that Waitrose is in talks to acquire 102-shop sandwich chain EAT fits well with the retai-ler’s strategy of moving from being a conventional supermarket to becoming a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brand.

That’s the view of Planet Retail analyst Natalie Berg, who says the acquisition of EAT would enable Waitrose to continue its move into different retail channels. "Waitrose is pushing hard into convenience and fresh food markets, with recent deals to sell its products in Shell petrol forecourts, Welcome Break motorway service stations and Boots. It also has big plans to roll out its own convenience stores," she told British Baker. "The possible deal to buy EAT fits with this strategy, enabling Waitrose to sell its premium food products, such as sandwiches, snacks and drinks, on the high street. We could also see EAT cafés opening in its supermarkets."

The Sunday Times reported last month that Waitrose was in exclusive negotiations to buy EAT from founders Niall and Faith MacArthur. EAT sits at number 12 on British Baker’s BB75 list of top bakery retailers. For the year to 27 June 2009, it reported an 11% rise in turnover to £75.5m, thanks to store openings.