Ocado shrugs off Waitrose threat as sales rise to £92m


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The Independent Online

The online grocer Ocado dismissed the growing threat from its partner Waitrose today as it reported a rise in sales growth over Christmas.

The internet specialist also launched a thinly veiled dig at Asda, which failed to deliver some Christmas orders due to a 'systems error', by boasting that "all customers that ordered a turkey, received one".

Ocado, which delivers Waitrose and own-label groceries, grew its sales by 14.2 per cent to £91.6m over the six weeks to 6 January, which marked an improvement on the 12.4 per cent growth in its fourth quarter. However, this was behind the recent rise of 18 per cent and 15 per cent posted by Tesco and Sainsbury's, respectively, and Waitrose's 37 per cent growth in the festive period.

Duncan Tatton-Brown, Ocado's finance director, said: "Waitrose is growing and growing strongly but it is still a relatively modest [online] business in terms of its size. It is not something that worries us." While Waitrose more than doubled its sales within the M25 last year, its online grocery business is only one-sixth the size of Ocado's.

Shares in Ocado, which has never made a pre-tax profit in more than a decade, rose by 0.4p at 84.5p but remain less than half its July 2010 flotation price of 180p.