Online grocer Ocado has hinted at a move into bricks and mortar with the etailer eyeing a showroom for its health and beauty business.
The showroom would complement Ocado’s forthcoming online beauty business, which was launched alongside women’s magazine, Marie Claire.
Retail Week revealed earlier this year that Ocado was set to move into the beauty and wellbeing segment, and had appointed John Lewis’ head of buying for beauty and accessories, Amanda Scott, to head up the venture.
Ocado chief financial officer Duncan Tatton-Brown told Retail Week: “We may well add physical in our health and beauty business… small outlets to enable us to display what we offer.”
Tatton-Brown said the company could also open a “flagship store” in the health and beauty area, although he added it wouldn’t be imminent.
He said: “We don’t expect to add a physical presence in grocery but in health and beauty we would think of [having a] showroom rather than a physical outlet. If we had a showroom we wouldn’t stop someone buying… but it would be helpful for the supply chain [to showcase their products].”
Tatton-Brown wouldn’t disclose details on the location of the potential showroom, but when asked if it would be London, he said: “You can probably have a guess where would build a beauty business.”
When pressed if that could lead to a bricks-and-mortar grocery presence, Tatton-Brown insisted: “The focus is on how do we get goods as efficiently as possible. I don’t think that requires us to operate physical premises. We can do it digitally.”
Last year Ocado launched its first click-and-collect offer at The Galleria shopping centre in Hatfield after trialling lockers at its head office. The service enabled customers to pick up orders from the car park at the Land Securities-owned shopping centre.
The grocer had imposed a deadline of by the end of the year to sign a deal with an overseas retailer, but the company revealed it had yet to strike a deal.
Tatton-Brown said: “We created that pressure ourselves because we are confident of our ability to sign a deal. The deadline will be signed as soon as it makes sense with the partner. We’re not creating a new deadline apart from saying we’re confident in signing in the short term.”
He added that Ocado continues to be in advanced dicussions with potential partners in Western Europe and North America.