Revenue at supermarket Ocado is up significantly on the same period last year, as the online model proved resilient in the face of Covid-19 restrictions.
Revenue for the business stood at £1.3bn for the first half of 2021, up 24.4 per cent on H1 2020.
Group EBITDA more than tripled to £61m, despite increased investment in its Ocado Smart Platform business – a business that creates an online platform for grocery retailers wanting to sell online.
The business increased sales by 20 per cent during the period, and saw a rise in customer numbers.
However, Ocado still failed to make a profit, recording a loss before tax of £23.6m, marking a £17m reduction on £40.6m loss the year before.
CEO Tim Steiner said: “As we head towards a post Covid-19 future, it is increasingly clear that the landscape for grocery worldwide has changed, for good.
“Over the last 18 months, we have shown that the Ocado model works even in the most challenging and fluid of environments.
The online supermarket also announced a partnership with Spanish grocery retailer Alcampo.
Ocado will work with Alcampo to expand its online business in Spain using its Ocado Smart Platform technology.
Auchen Retail, owner of Alcampo, is one of the world’s largest grocery retailers, with 180,000 employees, €32bn revenue, and operations across 13 countries.
Luke Jensen, CEO of Ocado Solutions, said: “Auchan Retail is one of the world’s leading grocery retailers, with strong brands and deep connections to customers across multiple global markets.
“Spain is primed for significant growth in online grocery sales in the coming years, and as we are proving with partners across international markets who we have successfully helped go-live, Ocado’s technology enables a genuinely world-leading customer proposition online at a time when more shoppers are coming to the channel than ever.
“We can’t wait to bring this offer to Alcampo, and enable them to become a market leader online in Spain.”
Ocado’s share price jumped 2.2 per cent in response to the news.
Scale holding Ocado back
Hargreaves Lansdown senior equity analyst Sophie Lund-Yates said Ocado’s retail business, which is half owned by M&S, was going from strength to strength, but scale was the thing holding it back.
“The fly in the ointment where Ocado is concerned is the speed at which it’s building scale,” she said.
“Progress to date can’t be knocked, but ideally this needs to move up a gear if wants to capture a bigger chunk of available demand.”
Interactive Investor head of markets Richard Hunter said Ocado was benefitting from both a boost to online shopping and to retail revenues.