Waitrose is to accelerate its move into the convenience sector, starting with the opening of 20 ‘Little Waitrose’ stores within the M25 by the end of 2012.

The sub-brand, designed to help shoppers differentiate between its convenience format and its core brand of 6,000- 7,000sq ft medium sized stores, has been successfully trialled at a 3,000sq ft store in London’s South Kensington.

Last week saw the launch of the newest Little Waitrose store in London’s Tottenham Court Road, and another is to open next month in the capital, in Holborn, not far from The People’s Supermarket.

Its other recently opened convenience stores are also to be rebranded as Little Waitrose.

Announcing the move, Waitrose managing director Mark Price said: “We are rolling this out and want as many sites as we can get all over the country, but the focus in the first instance is inside the M25.”

He added: “London is an important part of our heritage so this is another exciting milestone for our business.”

Each store opening, of which there are expected to be a further five by December, is to be supported by local marketing.

Price had previously announced his intention to open up to 300 small stores in the next 10 years (Convenience Store, October 2, 2009).

Little Waitrose stores, which will typically be 2,500-5,000sq ft, aim to provide shoppers with all they need for the following 24-48 hours, and will feature food to be eaten on the go, food for later, and some everyday household items.