Ocado shares fall as finance chief resigns

 
Kasmira Jefford
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OCADO saw its shares fall yesterday after the online grocer announced that Andrew Bracey, its chief financial officer, has quit to join the recruiting agency Michael Page as its finance director.

Bracey, who joined Ocado just 18 months ago ahead of its controversial flotation in 2010, will step down in April after completing the group’s year end audit and annual report.

The surprise move has prompted analysts to ask whether this is further evidence that Ocado will struggle to compete in the long-term against industry rivals like Tesco.

Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital said: “Whilst only our view, that Mr Bracey has decided to leave Ocado, billed as the next big thing by some, speaks volumes.”

Ocado is yet to report an annual pre-tax profit. Capacity constraints at its distribution centre in Hatfield forced the troubled company to issue a profit warning last month.

However, Bracey defended his move, saying the decision was unrelated to the company’s performance.

“I am certain that Ocado will demonstrate what we all believe – that it is a business with great prospects and an exciting growth trajectory,” he said.

The group said it had started a formal search process to find a successor and also announced that co-founder Jason Gissing will take up the new role of commercial director, taking charge of Ocado’s retail activities.