Morrisons boss David Potts has hinted that the grocer could partner with the likes of Deliveroo and JustEat as it targets the “next-meal” delivery market.

The supermarket giant is now able to talk to third parties of that ilk in a bid to enhance its online offer after relaxing its exclusive partnership with Ocado – a move it revealed this morning.

Potts insisted Ocado remained an “important” partner for Morrisons, but said the grocer would now be “able to work with others in order to fulfil consumer needs”.

And the Morrisons boss pinpointed the “growing channel” of next-meal fulfilment as a particular focus for the business.

Speaking after Morrisons unveiled a 2.3% uptick in like-for-like sales during its first quarter, Potts said: “Morrisons are able to work with others in order to fulfil consumer needs.

“We are trading in a world where, as consumers change, we must change. Our abilities to fulfil next-meal, our ability to be involved in that growing channel, I think is accelerated and broadened by the relaxation of the exclusivity arrangements that were previously signed by the companies.”

When pressed on whether that could mean a tie-up with the likes of Deliveroo or JustEat, both of which act as intermediaries between restaurants and customers, Potts added: “There are a number of companies involved in this part of food consumption. We can be a more inclusive part of it now and that’s important to Morrisons as a food-maker.

“In the case of Amazon, we were obviously able to work with them over the last couple of years where Amazon were the seller of record for the items that we wholesale to them. This contractual change with Ocado means we ourselves could now be the seller of record. That’s important.”

Should Morrisons join forces with the likes of Deliveroo, it would not be the first grocer to attempt to tap into the increasingly lucrative “next-meal” market through such a partnership.

The Co-op is piloting a tie-up with Deliveroo in Central Manchester and parts of London.

The service allows customers to purchase items such as pizza, bread, milk, snacks, confectionery, beers, wines and spirits for home delivery.

Morrisons wholesale arm drives like-for-like rise in first quarter