Ocado has reported its first annual pre-tax profit in almost 15 years as it claims it will “continue to lead the grocery revolution in the UK and overseas”.

Ocado has reported its first pre-tax profit in history

The online grocer reported a statutory profit before tax of £7.2m for the year ending November 30 as it moved into the black for the first time.

Ocado’s profit came as it increased gross retail sales by 15.3% year on year to £972.4m, compared with a pre-tax loss of £12.5m in the previous year.

Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner said: “Channel shift towards online grocery shopping continued during the period.

“While the broader grocery market was characterised by intense competition with minimal growth in the segment, declining supermarket store sales, competitive price activity and cautious consumer spending, we continued to grow ahead of the online grocery market and significantly ahead of the market overall.

“We are well equipped to continue to lead the online grocery revolution, in the UK and overseas, as increasing numbers of customers shift away from traditional forms of retailing. We are confident that we have significant opportunities for growth in sales and shareholder value.”

Ocado reports that during the period its online pet store Fetch grew at a “significant pace” and claims the launch its launch of Morrisons.com was “particularly encouraging and paves the way for future agreements to commercialise the value of our intellectual property”.

The online grocer has also announced plans for two new distribution centres in Andover and Erith as it seeks to significantly increase capacity to support future growth.

Ocado reveals these distribution centres will use new fulfilment technology and as a result will be more efficient than its existing centres.