Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner has refused to rule out cutting short the online grocer’s current deal with Waitrose in favour of Marks & Spencer.

In response to recent speculation that Ocado and M&S were in talks over a deal, Steiner did not rule out the possibility of the online grocer signing a deal with M&S that would supersede its current deal with Waitrose, which is set to expire in September 2020.

“We have a good relationship with Waitrose. I have a good relationship with Rob [Collins, managing director of Waitrose] and we talk quite frequently. We’re currently selling Waitrose products to our customers, and our customers enjoy those products.

“In September 2020, we’ll still be in business. We’ll still be selling 50,000-plus lines to our customers, including high quality, own-label products. They may be Waitrose, they may not be. We’ll have to wait and see.”

He also said Ocado is “in the business of talking to retailers” and is “constantly talking to retailers all around the world about the opportunities we may have with them”.

Ocado’s deal with Waitrose means that it cannot form partnerships with any other “substantial grocers” in the UK, based on a percentage of market share.

When asked by Retail Week whether Ocado had any new partnerships in place with international retailers for 2019, chief finance officer Duncan Tatton-Brown refused to comment but said: “It’s worth pointing out that the Ocado Solutions sales team are busy. They’re talking to a lot of people. We won’t comment specifically, and we won’t create a target or set an expectation, but they are busy.”

In 2018, Ocado announced several landmark deals with international grocers including with US grocery giant Kroger to develop Ocado’s Smart Platform.

Ocado boss refuses to rule out M&S deal