Ocado sees shares slide as it lacks Jubilee cheer

Kasmira Jefford
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SHARES in Ocado crashed by 20 per cent yesterday after the online supermarket admitted that the Jubilee celebrations had disrupted trading and it could see a similar effect during the Olympics.

The share sell-off came even as the retailer reported a four per cent increase in pre-tax profit to £181,000, in the six months to 13 May, on revenues up 11.4 per cent to £308m.

Ocado’s sales rose 12 per cent to £332.3m as it started to see improvements at its distribution centre. The Hatfield centre’s performance led to a string of profit downgrades last year.

Ocado said its own-brand products were now found in 80 per cent of baskets compared with 68 per cent last year, as it further loosens its ties with its main supplier Waitrose.

But chief executive Tim Steiner’s cautious outlook for the rest of the year disappointed analysts after he said third quarter trading was “particularly hard to forecast”.

Unlike its peers who enjoyed strong sales in the run-up to the Jubilee, he said it lost out as it could not send out extra vans to supply customers.

Despite uncertainty over the impact of the Olympics, Steiner said he was confident that sales would nevertheless increase in the second half overall.

Meanwhile the grocer also confirmed that former Fitness First finance chief Duncan Tatton-Brown, will join Ocado in the same role.