Waitrose & Partners has appointed Martyn Lee to the high profile role of executive chef as the retailer boosts its commitment to product quality and innovation.

Martyn Lee will head up a team of development chefs based at the Waitrose Food Innovation Studio at its Bracknell Headquarters, which was officially opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2019. Over £1.5M was invested in the facility, helping to increase the pace of cutting edge and distinctive products. 

Lee’s role will include developing the retailer’s successful private brands, some of which include Waitrose & Partners No.1, Heston from Waitrose and Cooks’ Ingredients. 

The new appointment is part of the retailer’s commitment to being the most innovative, high quality food retailer in the supermarket sector.

Martyn Lee has held senior product development roles with a number of major food manufacturers and retailers, playing a critical role in bringing food trends to life while supporting each business to deliver product innovation. 

Most recently at Tesco, Lee has also worked for Moy Park as a senior development chef which included spending a year collaborating with the Waitrose innovation team on new meat, fish and poultry ranges. 

Natalie Mitchell, Head of Production Innovation & Own Brand, Waitrose & Partners, says: “I’m delighted that one of the leading development chefs in the industry has joined Waitrose. Martyn’s wealth of experience and creative vision will help us to continue offering the high-quality and distinctive products our customers expect.”

Martyn Lee, new Executive Chef at Waitrose & Partners, says: “Waitrose is known for pushing the boundaries on quality and delivering cutting edge innovation but also for its strong sourcing credentials – so it’s incredibly exciting to be joining the team. I’m looking forward to adding my own creativity to one of the UK’s most respected brands.” 

Waitrose & Partners has a strong track record in innovation – it was the first to market with foods ranging from hummus and sushi in the 1980s to the Heston from Waitrose Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding in 2010 to the more recent Chocolate Avocado which was a best-seller last Easter.                      

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.