Waitrose has announced that its tie-up with celebrity chef Delia Smith is at an end. She came on board at the same time as Heston Blumenthal in 2010, appearing in adverts and promoting recipes for the supermarket. The deal for both chefs comes to an end this year, but Waitrose confirmed to AOL that while Blumenthal has signed another contract with the group, Smith is being bid a 'fond farewell'.
So what next?
PartingThe supermarket has been at pains to point put that it isn't ditching Delia. The agreement was apparently mutual, as busy Delia will be working on other projects.
Waitrose said in a statement that it "will be bidding a fond farewell to Delia Smith after enjoying three successful years of working together." It added: "Delia has other major projects and commitments coming up in 2013 and, so by mutual agreement, her contract will finish in February 2013."
Rupert Thomas, Waitrose Marketing Director said: "It has been such a fantastic experience working together and we have been really appreciative of the work Delia has done with Waitrose. We remain on very good terms and will be continuing to work closely with her until the end of February."
WaitroseFor Waitrose, the successful tie-up with Blumenthal will continue. Waitrose confirmed: "Heston will continue to work with Waitrose and his contract has been renewed from February 2013. Alongside featuring in our advertising, Heston's successful range will continue to excite our customers and push the boundaries of supermarket innovation."
After the much-reported success of his hidden orange Christmas pudding, we can expect mildly quirky recipes and products that fly off the shelves. Blumenthal has shown he can combine the creative flair that put him on the map with commercial nous that can match it to the needs of the retailer. It's clearly a more successful marriage than his Little Chef experiment, and has been positive for them both.
It's uncertain yet whether he will soldier on alone, or be joined by a fresh face. Blumenthal and Smith were the supermarket's first celebrity links, and there are questions as to whether it will continue with another new celebrity, or bring the food to the fore.
SmithDelia, meanwhile, is sure to be keeping busy. Her relationship with Norwich City football club (of which she is the majority shareholder) sees not only corporate hospitality but a host of special events and wedding catering at five different restaurants.
She maintains 60th position in the list of the best-selling books of all time in the UK with How to Cook volume 1 (the second-best selling cookery book on the list after Jamie's 30 Minute Meals). And while we have been awaiting a new cookery tome since 'Happy Christmas' in 2009, it's unlikely that we'll be waiting long.
Added to that, given that she had previously been consultant to Sainsbury's as well as Waitrose, another supermarket tie-up isn't out of the question.
If she chooses to take some time out, it's fairly likely that she can keep the wolf from the door. A money.co.uk report put her as Britain's 10th most successful female entrepreneur in 2011, after the likes of Katie Price, JK Rowling and Karren Brady, with an estimated worth of £23 million.
It seems, therefore, to be an amicable split, leaving both parties in fine financial form and ready for the next step. This may be the only split over Christmas to have such a happy ending.