Ocado’s Tim Steiner has shrugged off rumours that Amazon is eyeing a bid for the grocer and said he would happily go toe-to-toe with the etailer.
But Steiner insisted he has had no contact from the US etail titan and said he would rather compete with Amazon than sell the business he founded 16 years ago.
Steiner told Retail Week: “I read about it in The Daily Mail. They let me know, which was kind of them.
“Obviously if Amazon approached me to discuss a takeover, I would be forced to put out an RNS announcement immediately. As they haven’t done that, obviously I’m not discussing it with Amazon.”
Asked if he would rather sell Ocado to Amazon or compete with it, he said: “It is a fantastic business, but we are very happy to compete with them. At the moment we are not really competing with them because it is not a significant player in our market.
“We have a very competitive offer in online and I think we do an outstanding job for customers. If they spur us on to work even harder, I think we will enjoy that”
Tim Steiner, Ocado
“If it comes into our market and becomes a significant player, I think it would be good for the market overall and accelerate the transition from bricks and mortar to online.
“We have a very competitive offer in online and I think we do an outstanding job for customers. If they spur us on to work even harder, I think we will enjoy that.”
Steiner’s bullish response came after unveiling Ocado’s second consecutive full-year profit. Statutory pre-tax profit jumped 65.3% to £11.9m for the 52 weeks ending November 29 as gross retail sales advanced 14.7% to £1.1bn.
However, Ocado failed to seal a technology and logistics partnership with an international retailer, despite ongoing discussions. Steiner had set a target of the financial year end to provide its Ocado Smart Platform to an overseas retailer in a similar tie-up to the one it has with Morrisons in the UK.
And he admitted that he had perhaps been too ambitious by setting that initial aim.
He added: “I think I’ve fallen foul of giving too much colour before and my forecast not coming quite right.
“We are discussing it with a lot of parties and we believe in the medium term we will sign a lot of deals. We are not slowing down our investment in the platform because we didn’t sign a deal in 2015 – in fact it’s quite the opposite.
“We are continuing to accelerate our investment in the platform because we believe the long-term prospects are very positive.
“At the time we put the target out there, we honestly believed it was our duty to inform the market. But obviously with the benefit of hindsight I would have rather said the end of 2016 because then I wouldn’t have been wrong.”