Waitrose managing director Mark Price has said the grocer is building up its online infrastructure as its relationship with Ocado appears set to change.
Price said the grocer has scouted a second ‘dark store’ online fulfillment centre “south of the river” in London and is building capacity to service shoppers clamouring for its online offer.
Price said: “Our online business is growing at more than 50%. It’s about growing capacity. Weekend slots are totally booked out. We have to add more vans and more capacity. A lot of our investment will be in dotcom.”
Waitrose and Ocado’s lawyers will be “talking for a while”, Price said, as the former scrutinises the etailer’s 25-year contract to service Morrisons’ online grocery offer for a potential infringement of Waitrose’s supply agreement to Ocado.
He said: “There’s going to be some give and take to make things happen. I have no doubt the lawyers will find the best way of working.
“Ocado are changing their business model. That has to reflect in new thinking from them and that will reflect a new way of working with Waitrose. The future is always uncertain and there’s a lot of water to pass under the bridge.
“When Waitrose had a stake in Ocado we had a degree of control. When Ocado floated they became more susceptible to the whims of the market and that’s out of our control.”
Price said that he “hopes very much” to see Waitrose’s contract with Ocado past its 2017 break clause and through to 2020.