David Prosser: The tale of the Prince and the supermarket

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The Independent Online

Outlook Say what you like about the Prince of Wales but he is clearly not lacking in commercial nous. Not only has he managed to offload his Duchy Originals business to Waitrose now that it is no longer making any money, it turns out that he was careful enough not to risk a penny of his own money on the venture, though it has always traded on his name.

To give the Prince his due, the money Duchy Originals did once make – millions of pounds a year during better economic times – went to his charity rather than to supplement his income. Still, the perception has always been that this was Prince Charles' company, so it's a surprise to discover he has no exposure to what are likely to be substantial losses this year.

The revelation does at least give some support to the claim made yesterday by Sir Michael Peat, the Prince's private secretary, that Duchy Originals is being licensed to Waitrose only because the company lacks the capital to move itself forward. The Prince isn't short of a bob or two, but if he's not prepared to put his money where his mouth is on organic food, Duchy Original needs a commercial partner to expand.

For Waitrose, the deal is an excellent one. Despite the current downturn, which has hit shoppers' budgets, organic food is a growth sector for the grocers. And it has also secured the endorsement of the heir to the throne – expect some criticism of Prince Charles' commercial link to Waitrose, by the way – which rather knocks spots off the celebrities pushing rival grocers' products.

Not a bad follow-up at all to the news this week that Al Gore has bought a big stake in Ocado, Waitrose's online groceries business.

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