Store wars fail to dent Ocado sales

ONLINE grocer Ocado said the industry competition in Britain is the toughest in the world as it reassured its battered investors with a jump in first-quarter sales.

The firm, which has seen its share price halve over the last year, posted a 10.9 per cent rise in gross sales to £162.1m but chief financial officer Andrew Bracey warned the firm faces a lengthy fight to win customers.

“I don’t think the competitive environment in UK grocery has ever been as tough as it is… It’s the toughest grocery market on the planet, and we don’t expect that to change, but we’re happy operating in it.”

Tim Steiner, chief executive, said Ocado had “largely overcome” the problems in boosting capacity at its Hatfield distribution centre.

Ocado, set up in 2000 by three former Goldman Sachs bankers, mostly sells Waitrose products. Average orders per week increased 13.4 per cent to 116,987 in the 12 weeks to 19 February but the size of the average spend fell 2.2 per cent to £115.49.