Ocado says sales hit by Jubilee

City A.M. Reporter
Online supermarket Ocado said trade in its third quarter was disrupted by celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee as it posted a 4.5 per cent rise in underlying first half earnings.

"The third quarter is particularly hard to forecast as we have already seen some disruption from the Jubilee events, and there is uncertainty as to the effect of the forthcoming Olympic Games, but we expect sales growth to increase in the second half of 2012 overall," chief executive Tim Steiner said.

Ocado, whose range includes products supplied by upmarket grocer Waitrose, made earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £14.9m in the 24 weeks to 13 May.

That was in line with analysts' consensus forecast of £15m, according to a company poll, and up from £14.3m in 2010-11.

Ocado's sales rose 12.0 percent to £332.3m, with growth accelerating in its second quarter, raising hopes it has got to grips with bottlenecks at its distribution centre at Hatfield, north of London, that led to a string of profit downgrades last year.

Ocado shares have had a roller coaster ride since floating at 180 pence in July 2010. They hit a low of 52 pence in December but have risen 82 per cent in the last six months.

Ocado, founded in 2000 by three former Goldman Sachs bankers.

Ocado also named Duncan Tatton-Brown as its new chief financial officer from September 1. He succeeds Andrew Bracey, who quit to join recruitment company Michael Page in January.