Britain's Ocado sees retail sales soar 52% in latest quarter

The growth compares with 27.2% in its first half and a second-quarter rate of over 40%

  
General view of people looking at the skyline in Greenwich Park as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 10, 2020.

General view of people looking at the skyline in Greenwich Park as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 10, 2020.

REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON - Ocado Group, the British online supermarket, said its Ocado Retail joint venture with Marks & Spencer saw revenue rise 52% in the 13 weeks to Aug. 30, with the COVID-19 pandemic generating huge demand for online deliveries.

On Tuesday it reported third-quarter retail revenue of 587.3 million pounds ($755.9 million) versus 386.4 million a year earlier.

The growth compares with 27.2% in its first half and a second-quarter rate of over 40%.

Average orders per week rose 9.6% to 345,000, while an average order size of 141 pounds was below COVID-related peaks but above pre-crisis levels.

Online grocery shopping has doubled its share of the UK market to 14% since the start of the pandemic and Ocado reckons it could reach 30% over the next few years.

The fourth quarter started with Ocado Retail replacing Waitrose products with M&S products from Sept. 1. 

Ocado said customers have responded positively to the switch, with demand for the new range driving both an increase in the number of products in customer baskets and strong forward demand.

It said the performance of Ocado Retail in the first three quarters of the year, combined with the impact of operational leverage in the retail business, suggested, given current trends, full year 2020 core earnings (EBITDA) for Ocado Group of at least 40 million pounds. It made 43.3 million pounds in 2019.

Shares in Ocado, up 84% this year, closed Monday at 2,355 pence, valuing the business at 17.5 billion pounds - more than double the combined market capitalisation of Sainsbury's and Morrisons.

($1 = 0.7770 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey, editing by Louise Heavens) ((james.davey@thomsonreuters.com))

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