Another year and still no profit at Ocado

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The Independent Online

Ocado, the online grocer, has failed to deliver its first pre-tax profit in 10 years, amid a sharp slowdown in sales growth and increased investment at its warehouse to address capacity constraints.

But Tim Steiner, chief executive, was bullish about "accelerating" sales growth this year, and said its plan to move to a second distribution centre in Warwickshire in a year's time is "on time and on budget".

The City appeared to like the message, sending its shares up 6.9p, or 8.6 per cent, to 87.1p.

Despite this, Ocado's share price remains at less than half the 180p it floated at in July 2010.

Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital and a long-time sceptic of Ocado, said: "The good news for investors is that there is no major warning or new disappointment after a series of warnings and quieter downgrades across the market."

Ocado, which delivers Waitrose and its own-label groceries, made a pre-tax loss of £2.42m for the year to 27 November, down from losses of £12.2m.

Total sales rose 16.6 per cent to £642.8m, lower than the 29 per cent growth the previous year.