Ocado logs more losses despite pandemic sales boom

LIVERPOOL: File photo taken on February 10, 2019 a delivery driver returns empty crates to his Ocado delivery van after supplying a residential address near Liverpool in north west England. – AFP

LONDON: British online food retailer Ocado yesterday said first-half net losses deepened on heavy investment made to help meet booming demand during the pandemic. Losses after tax hit £77.8 million ($108 million, 91 million euros) in the first half of its financial year or six months to May, Ocado said in a results statement.

That was worse than the £57.4 million loss posted in the same period of 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis erupted and sparked heightened demand for online food supplies. However, Ocado added that earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) more than tripled to £61 million in the first half.

And sales surged 21.4 percent to £1.3 billion in the reporting period, despite the easing of coronavirus curbs in England since March. Ocado sells food via its app and website under a tie-up with traditional high-street retailer Marks & Spencer, and also sells its technology to supermarket firms around the world.

The company has ramped up investment in highly automated customer fulfilment centres, as more people switch to online grocery deliveries. “As we head towards a post COVID-19 future, it is increasingly clear that the landscape for grocery worldwide has changed, for good,” said chief executive Tim Steiner.

“Over the last eighteen months, we have shown that the Ocado model works even in the most challenging and fluid of environments. “That ours is a proven model in online grocery has been again demonstrated by the strong performance of Ocado Retail, the historic core of the Ocado business, which has led the market in customer experience, increasing sales by 20 percent in the period, thanks to a significant increase in customer numbers, while continuing to show sustainable and industry-leading profitable growth.” Ocado has signed a deal with Auchan to help develop online activities of the French giant’s Spanish division Alcampo, it added. – AFP



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