Merchant Gourmet, the retail brand from Leathams, is hoping to explore further opportunities with Waitrose after launching a Grain & Graze counter at the supermarket’s Salisbury branch.

Clive Moxham, group commercial director at Leathams, told MCA the opening weeks at Salisbury had exceeded expectations.

The group, which supplies restaurants and caterers, has also relaunched its Islington pop-up restaurant as a more grab and go offering, with plans to introduce a brunch menu at weekends.

Moxham said the format was primarily a marketing effort for Merchant Gourmet rather than a bid to enter the restaurant market, and said it tapped into trends around healthy eating, natural protein, as well as the convergence of foodservice and retail.

He said: “We are getting a lot of traction from consumers in Salisbury. There’s no firm agreement with Waitrose for more, so we will take it as it comes. If there’s an opportunity to do more we will do it.

“I don’t want to become a restaurant business – it competes with my customers and that’s not what I want to do.

“Its more about creating a living working window into what we do as a business, how we operate, and menu development.

“We’re a supplier and in difficult times you have to focus on what you’re good at.”

Dishes include quinoa porridge, puy lentil and sausage hot pot, smoky spanish grains and chorizo paella, and the famous beluga lentil brownie.

Merchant Gourmet is also sponsoring the GB hockey team at this year’s World Cup.