Dear Waitrose, please dump Shell this Christmas

Posted by sara — 1 December 2012 at 12:46pm - Comments

Waitrose - aren’t they meant to be one of the more ethical supermarkets, a green leader? Well in many ways they are – Greenpeace’s oceans team has worked closely with Waitrose in the past to help them source their fish more sustainably and we know many of those who shop at Waitrose, do so to make an ethical choice.

But back in April we were shocked to learn that Waitrose had a new friend, and that this friend, Shell, was one of the most destructive and exploitative oil companies in the world.

Greenpeace are campaigning hard to save the Arctic from oil drilling. The Arctic is one of the last remaining wild places on the planet, and a vitally important eco-system, home to unique species such as polar bears, narwhals and Arctic foxes. But due to global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels, the Arctic is melting fast, and oil companies – led by Shell - are moving in fast, seeing the melting ice as an opportunity to extract the oil which lies below.

An oil spill in this fragile environment would be a disaster for the creatures that live there, and also for the 5 million people who call it home. Their rivers, land and the food they eat would be wrecked by an oil spill, destroying their way of life that has existed for thousands of years. In a BBC article this week about the threat from oil drilling to indigenous communities in Alaska, where Shell tried and failed to drill this summer, Pete Slaiby – Vice President of Shell – said ‘there’s no sugar coating it, there will be spills’.

So why has Waitrose, a company that cares about both the global environment and the local communities its stores operate in, embarked on a partnership with Shell, and begun to open Waitrose stores on their petrol station forecourts?

We have written to Waitrose three times since April, but their only response so far was to say: “Shell assures me that they intend to meet US legislation and will operate with respect for the environment and people who live in the Arctic”. But Shell has already breached US guidelines this summer, when their ship the Arctic Challenger was found to be responsible for four illegal fluid discharges. And there is no safe way to operate in the Arctic, unpredicatable weather, ice and lack of infrastructure means that oil spills are likely, and in the event of a major blowout, clean-up would be almost impossible.

So today Greenpeace are launching a new part of our Arctic campaign – we’re asking Waitrose to dump Shell and help save the Arctic from oil drilling.

This Christmas, Waitrose are using their advertising to promote their ‘Community Matters’ scheme where customers in stores receive tokens, and can ‘vote’ which local charity Waitrose will donate money to. This Christmas we urge Waitrose to also remember communities on the other side of the world, who risk having their lives destroyed because of Shell’s oil drilling. Please Waitrose, stay green this Christmas and end the partnership with Shell.

I am a regular shopper at Waitrose amd have always regarded them as a store with a conscience. This news from Greenpeace will make me think twice before shopping there.
I know many of my friends will be dismayed at this news,especially those who belong to the Transition Town Movement.
Please Waitrose rethink this policy or risk alienating customers.

Who should Waitrose partner with for fuel stations instead?

 dougle's is a very good question.  

Please reconsider your position with Shell.


I always shop at our local Waitrose and am proud of their green credentials, however this move has shocked me. Shell have seriously affected the environment and people's lives in Nigeria, one can only have serious concerns for the Arctic and life there. Waitrose please reconsider your options. 

I love Waitrose, but despise Shell for all their 'greenwash' and lack of corporate environmental responsibility. So.....I am left in a quandry.

Please Waitrose, don't do deals with companies that will damage your reputation, you don't need them at all!

I do not buy fuel at Shell due to their activities around the world. Any partnership with them will damage Waitrose's reputation.

If a company like Waitrose were to take a stand and tell Shell exactly why they could have a profound impact.

Please think about how you can make a change. 

I will not be rushing to Waitrose if you team up with Shell.


Patrick Roche.


I care about what I eat and I care about who supplies me with my food. I care even more about our planet and  I oppose drilling in the Arctic. Drilling by Shell.

Shell are set  too violate this precious place. I cannot believe that Waitrose plan to work with Shell and Shell mini stores.

I do not believe the information on Waitrose products any more? Is it really organic? Is it from from a farmer who cares about  animal welfare ? Am I paying more to support this planet and our farmers or am I being conned by yet another supermarket?

This is about trust.


Waitrose - this partnership undoes all the good that you do.  Your reputation is seriously tainted by this move and is a bad commercial judgement.  is this another case of profit before planet?  I think so ... and it flies in the face of the social responsibility and ethical standards that you promote.  I can tell you that 'black' is not the new 'green'.

Its a disgrace.  If Waitrose had any conscience they would have nothing to do with fossil fuels.  They are simply profiteering whilst global temperatures go up and up at an ever faster rate.  Why dont these people take any notice of the science.

All you people moaning about it probably drive cars or burn fossil fuels to heat your homes. It's a necessity which can't really be avoided. Sure we can make choices about where we get fuel but it has to come from somewhere. Without it we have no waitose or anything we need so quit complaining and make ur changes elsewhere!

To answer Dougle, Waitrose doesn't need to put its shops in any filling stations. From a commercial viewpoint it needs to exploit its USPs (unique selling points), and not undermine them by tarnishing its ethical image. Plenty of people shop at Waitrose because they think it's a bit different. Now it's in danger of being seen as just like all the others. Someone in Waitrose's management has really lost the plot.
And to answer Realistic Tim, yes I drive a car and yes we will have to live with fossil fuels a while longer. But unless you see that a lot of the oil will have to be left in the ground, to avoid catastrophic climate change, then you're in danger of turning into Unrealistic Tim.
It's natural for oil companies to cosy up to ethical organisations and do philanthropic stuff to try to improve their public image. I'm surprised that Waitrose fell for it. Waitrose has everything to lose, Shell has nothing to lose.

Tim, Get real.  We dont actually need cars or fossil fuels.  The sooner we wean ourselves off them the better.  You know it makes sense, it's the only way to save the planet

Really, really pleased to see that Greenpeace has picked up this campaign which the fabulous Climate Rush have been pushing for a while.  It's telling that Waitrose's PR machine is unable to answer even the most simple questions about how this relationship with Shell meets their ethical or corporate responsibility criteria (it doesn't!).  It's really important that Waitrose customers get behind this campaign too.  Don't boycott - tell your friends, go into the stores and tell other shoppers whilst you grab your groceries, tell the store manager, keep saying it until they listen!  Waitrose dump Shell!

Dear Waitrose, please consider how your business decisions impact on the interests of the environment. This feels like a wrong move, to me.

Dougle has a really good question and especially considering we are in the mass-pressure-groupage. I agree with Neil P, however for a retailer wishing to grow it's footprint of a more ethical business than it's competitors it must be hard to find room without exploring areas such as service stations and petrol stations. Retail is a very well established and aggressively competitive market, and Waitrose is a growing but smaller fish compared to the likes of Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda etc.

I agree Waitrose should not side with Shell as it's sole petrol-related partner, however in order for the company to grow it may be necessary to use such petrol-related retail spaces (as it has been for a while now). The partner-problem is BP does not have clean-white sheets, and I doubt the others do either.

In reality Waitrose is probably not powerful enough to provide it's own pressure on any oil companies therefore I see three main choices Waitrose has to respond to this campaign:

 - Retain all existing petrol-related retail, breaking a specific bond with Shell (harming its negotiation with Shell)

 - Retain petrol-related retail, closing those associated with Shell (thereby potentially increasing its association with the other baddies)

 - Close down all petrol-related retail (harming the company)

The sooner we wean ourselves off them the better..very interests.


Well, the thing that will really harm waitrose is if the ecologically minded don't shop there.

And my 20 years of good custom to them has now come to and end.

That's £100,000 I've probably spent in £20 years. Image if 1000 people like me walked. We can do it. I'm going to stop shopping at supermarkets altogether.

Well, the thing that will really harm waitrose is if the ecologically minded don't shop there.

And my 20 years of good custom to them has now come to and end.

That's £100,000 I've probably spent in £20 years. Image if 1000 people like me walked. We can do it. I'm going to stop shopping at supermarkets altogether.

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