Ocado hit by boss share sale

OCADO shares took a tumble yesterday after chief executive Tim Steiner sold £5m worth of Ocado stock.

Steiner’s move – plus the announcement that Waitrose was planning to revamp its own online delivery service – saw the stock close down 7.75 per cent at 239p.

Waitrose, which has a ten-year contract with Ocado to supply the online retailer with goods, said it would be targeting customers inside the M25; Ocado’s home turf.

The John Lewis pension fund last week sold its stake in Ocado, also adding to the company’s woes.

Meanwhile, a potentially lucrative tie-up with Morrisons to deliver its groceries seems to be off the agenda.

Ocado’s float last year saw the price slashed before going to market but since early wobbles the shares had gone from strength to strength.

Steiner sold two million shares at 254p, something he always intended to do post float, according to the company.

Ocado sceptic Clive Black at Shore Capital said: “We continue to believe that many folk believe Ocado is a division of Waitrose and when the light bulb comes on that a), it is not, that b), it is a competitor and that Waitrose is providing online direct, then our aforementioned fears about competition may come to the fore.”

However, an Ocado adviser said: “There is room for everyone in the market”, adding that the Waitrose move was not a worry.