The Business on: Tim Steiner, Chief executive, Ocado

  • @davidprosserind

That nice chap who delivers my shopping?

Well, the nice man who employs the nice chap who delivers your shopping. He runs the online groceries company that finally broke into profit at the end of last year after nine years of trying (and six months after a stock market flotation that proved trickier than expected).

No wonder he looks pleased.

Indeed: he's a few million quid richer this week, too. On Friday, a couple of hours after the stock market had closed, Ocado revealed his famlily trust had sold 2 million shares in the company, netting himself the best part of £5m. He had wanted to sell during the flotation, but was forced to keep it when it looked as if the issue might have to be pulled.

Still, it's come right in the end

Sort of. One or two people think it was a bit sneaky to announce such a big disposal by the chief executive hours after half the City had gone home on a Friday evening. It's not as if Ocado is a certain success yet.

What do you mean?

It's only had one profitable quarter. And while it has a long-term deal to deliver Waitrose shopping, that company said yesterday that it is now stepping up its own online service, which might hurt Ocado.

Wasn't there talk of a takeover?

There has been some gossip, but Mr Steiner's share sale suggests it was just that. If there were any talks going on, even informally, Ocado's chief executive would not legally be allowed to trade the shares.

So what does he have to say?

Not a lot just now, as is often the case. Ocado tends to roll out Jason Gissing, one of Mr Steiner's co-founders, for the public. Those in the business describe him as the"charming" one at the company.

How did they get started?

Mr Steiner met Mr Gissing and Jon Faiman, the third member of the founding trio, when they all worked at Goldman Sachs in the 1990s. They started the business in 2000, despite scepticism about their model.