Ocado is considering taking advantage of the e-commerce boom and expanding its retail operations beyond the UK, its chief executive Tim Steiner has revealed.
Speaking to the Financial Times, he said his “ideal” strategy would be to act as a technology provider to supermarkets, but that Ocado may decide to move into new markets itself.
Any move would be to a region without an existing supermarket customer, meaning markets in western Europe are a possibility.
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Ocado’s retail business is currently limited to a partnership with Marks and Spencer, which began last September.
Its long-standing agreement with Waitrose ended in 2020.
“The pandemic, we believe, has permanently accelerated the channel shift [to online shopping],” Steiner said.
“Some of those markets that were behind the UK are more attractive for somebody to enter aggressively now than they were before the pandemic.
“If we haven’t got the right potential partner there, then they’re more attractive for us to think about themselves.”
However, Ocado Solutions head Luke Jensen appeared to downplay the company’s retail ambitions in a Times interview three days ago, describing it as “a technology company, which also happens to be in retail”.
Ocado, valued at around £14.5 billion, believes it can make anywhere between £3.5 billion and £525 billion by selling its software.
The news comes after the business opened its “Swiftfields Campus” in Welwyn Garden City, creating jobs for 100 technology specialists.