Ocado offers top shoppers share chance

Marion Dakers
ONLINE supermarket Ocado has offered its most loyal customers the chance to buy shares if it goes ahead with plans to float on the London Stock Exchange.

Chief executive Tim Steiner told customers in a letter yesterday that anyone who has spent £300 with the online grocer this year would be eligible to participate in the IPO.

“Although we haven't made a decision on whether to proceed with the float, there has been lots of media speculation and we have had questions from customers,” said Steiner.

“So we wanted to alert them now that it is our intention to offer current customers the chance to buy shares if we go ahead.”

The letter said the board would consider floating “when the market conditions are right and all other legal, regulatory and other processes are completed”.

Malcolm Pinkerton, a senior analyst at Verdict Research, said the offer was a logical step for Ocado. “It has always been particularly engaged with its customers. That relationship is important for getting as much investment into the company as possible before the flotation.”

The firm was formed ten years ago by three ex-Goldman Sachs bankers, and has long-term contracts with Waitrose and John Lewis to distribute their products.

It has never generated a profit, posting an annual loss of £14.4m in March this year amid strong growth and expansion.