Ocado orders to double in 2003

John Lewis-backed online grocer Ocado believes it can more than double weekly orders to 15,000 by the end of this year.

At average transaction values, that could mean annual sales of more than£70 million.

The e-tailer, which sells Waitrose products, is confident it can up the pressure on rivals Sainsbury's To You and market leader Tesco.com.

At present, Ocado fulfils about 1,000 orders a day with an average value of£100, but joint managing directors Nigel Robertson and Roger Whiteside believe expansion in the Southeast and a renewed advertising push will turbo-charge growth.

'A third competitor is needed (in the e-grocery market). That's what we want to be,' said Whiteside.

Last autumn, Ocado had to abandon its London ad campaign after unexpectedly high demand meant the e-tailer could not fulfil its next-day delivery promise. But this service is due to be reinstated this month and advertising should resume in the summer.

Ocado moved its fulfilment operations to an automated 28,000 sq m warehouse in Hatfield in January and also delivers orders from a satellite site in Weybridge. It plans to have a second satellite depot in Southeast London by the autumn.

Sainsbury's to You delivers more than 33,000 orders a week, while market-leader Tesco.com exceeds 100,000.