Ocado is the worst performing stock on the FTSE 100, falling 3.3% despite reporting booming sales as its online grocery service, which benefited from an en-masse switch to home delivery services during the pandemic.
As our retail correspondent Zoe Wood reports, retail sales at Ocado, which now delivers Marks & Spencer groceries, jumped 35% to £2.2bn in 2020.
However the overall group, which includes its important tech business, Ocado Solutions, made a small loss of £44m.That compares with a pre-tax loss of £214.5m in 2019.
Tim Steiner, Ocado’s chief executive, said coronavirus has caused a “dramatic” shift in grocery retail and the landscape was “changing for good”.
Many customers who have tried online grocery for the first time have seen the benefits and are saying they are unlikely to revert to pre-crisis shopping habits.
The health crisis has seen demand for grocery deliveries rocket to account for 14% of the market. However Ocado was limited in its ability to take advantage of the huge increase as its robot powered warehouses were soon working at full pelt.
The company said sales growth in the coming year would be “highly dependent” on length of Covid-19 restrictions.
However it would have more delivery slots available in the UK in the coming months as three new hi-tech warehouses are set to open. It also plans to pour around £700m into new projects for its technology clients.
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