Ocado has restated that it is not up for sale to Morrisons as it holds talks about partnering with the grocer to develop its online business.
In an unscheduled statement to the City today ahead of its AGM, the online grocer said: “Ocado reconfirms that the arrangements under discussion do not involve Morrison acquiring either the whole of, or an equity stake in, Ocado. Discussions are ongoing, and there can be no certainty that an agreement will be reached.”
The notice comes a day after Morrisons published its first-quarter results. In its update the grocer said plans to launch food online by January next year were “progressing” and talks with the online grocer were ongoing.
Ocado confirmed that its existing partnership with Waitrose would be “unaffected” by any agreement with Morrisons.
It added: “Any such agreement would be complementary to Ocado’s existing partnership with Waitrose, which would be unaffected by any potential agreement with Morrison – product would continue to be sourced with Waitrose, and Ocado customers would continue to buy exclusively from the existing Ocado, Waitrose and branded ranges.”
In addition, Ocado said it is making “significant” progress as the chairmanship passes from Lord Grade to Sir Stuart Rose, whose appointment was announced in January.
The etailer said sales continued to grow as customer loyalty increases and it attracts new shoppers as demand for online grocery rises. Ocado said its second customer fulfilment centre at Dordon, Warwickshire, which opened in February, will support “significant future growth”.
It added: “The board is encouraged by the progress of the business so far this year, and believes the company is well placed to exploit the fast growth in online grocery retailing.”