Online grocer Ocado has recorded a fall in full-year profits but said its growth story “is only just beginning”.

Ocado posted an annual pre-tax loss of £44.4m, compared to a restated loss of £9.8m the previous year.

Group revenue climbed 12% to £1.48bn as the number of active customers advanced 11.8% to 721,000.

Profitability was hit by investments costs, share-based senior management incentive charges after the etailer’s share price soared and additional depreciation following the opening of a customer fulfilment centre in Erith, south London. Performance was also affected by the application of accountancy standard IFRS 15.

Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner was pleased with performance in a year which brought a landmark deal with US grocery giant Kroger to develop the Ocado Smart Platform in North America.

Steiner said: “Our performance last year was the result of many years of focus, dedication and perseverance: what we have called our ‘18-year overnight success’.

“Our growth story, however, is only just beginning. We now have in place a platform for significant and sustainable long-term value creation as the leading pureplay digital grocer in the UK, a world-leading provider of end-to-end ecommerce grocery solutions, and as an innovative and creative technology company applying our proprietary knowledge to a range of challenges.

“Our transformation journey is well under way with increased cash fees earned and greater investment as we execute on behalf of our partners.

“Creating future value now will involve us continuing to scale the business, enhancing our platform, enabling our UK retail business to take advantage of all its opportunities for growth, and innovating for the future. We look forward to fulfilling these opportunities with excitement and determination”.

There has been speculation that a deal between Ocado and Marks & Spencer was on the cards, but no mention was made of that in the results.

Ocado boss refuses to rule out M&S deal