Up-to-date coverage of the latest events in UK retail.

7.04am M&S and Ocado strike online grocery deal

Marks & Spencer has struck a £1.5bn joint venture partnership with Ocado in a bid to “transform online grocery shopping in the UK”.

The deal will effectively split Ocado’s grocery business from its Ocado Solutions technology division. M&S will pay £750m to take 50% shareholding in the former, with Ocado retaining ownership of the remaining 50% of the business.

The joint venture will trade as Ocado.com, offering 50,000 SKUs including M&S’ own-brand food lines, which will be available to purchase through the ecommerce platform from September 2020.

7.15am Laura Ashley slams Flacks bid

Laura Ashley has hit out at the “unsolicited and highly opportunistic” bid from Flacks and claimed it “significantly undervalues” the business.

The homewares and fashion operator revealed its “disappointment” at the approach taken by Flacks – and claimed it had not engaged with the board prior to its announcement regarding the potential bid.

Laura Ashley chair Andrew Khoo said: “Since assuming the role of chair recently, I would like to reiterate that I hold a long-term view of the group. Opportunistic and unsolicited offers that are speculative in nature, and playing to a short-term market that creates unnecessary volatility to the share price are not welcome. However, we will not be distracted from our focus on the business fundamentals as we continue to transform the group into a true lifestyle brand.”