Ocado has won the backing of almost all its shareholders for its plans for a joint venture with Marks & Spencer.
After winning the backing of almost all its investors – more than 530m votes were cast for the deal while 5,585 voted against and just short of 125,000 abstained – the online grocer has permission to press ahead with forming the new company. The deal will see it sell half of its Ocado Retail business to M&S for up to £750m, creating a business that will be the only place UK or Irish shoppers can buy either M&S or Ocado own-brand groceries online. The retailer set out its plans in detail last month here.
The new business is expected to be in operation by September 1 2020, the date the Ocado’s existing supply agreement with Waitrose is currently scheduled to terminate.
Meanwhile, Waitrose & Partners has said that it plans to treble the size of its online grocery operations to create a £1bn business over the next three years.
It is to work with Today Development Partners, is headed by Jonathan Famiman, a co-founder and former chief operating officer of Ocado, and Mo Gawdat, formerly chief business officer of Google X, Google’s innovation arm, and specialises in automation and artificial intelligence in retail. The Waitrose side will be led by Ben Stimson as digital director. Together the partners will boost capacity, automation and Waitrose.com’s online and digital capabilities. Currently, the Waitrose.com online grocery business, which operates separately from the supermarket’s agreement to supply Ocado, set to end in September 2020, delivers groceries both via in-store picking and from its Couldson Fulfilment Centre. The business grew by 14.2% in the year to January 27 2019.
Rob Collins, MD of Waitrose & Partners, a Top50 business in IRUK Top500 research, said: “Waitrose.com is a popular and efficient home delivery service that is already growing strongly ahead of the market. The plans announced today represent a clear commitment to achieve rapid step-change in Waitrose.com’s capacity and capability as we build a modern, well-invested digital business that is fit for the future.
“The development of our new Customer Fulfilment Centres will triple our delivery capacity, bringing our well-loved service and delicious food to more customers across the UK and setting Waitrose.com on the path to becoming a £1 billion turnover business.”
TDP’s Faiman said: “I am more excited about this new venture than anything I’ve done in my career. I am delighted and privileged to be back within the John Lewis Partnership family and we will deliver for Waitrose.com customers the world’s best digital home delivery service.”
Gawdat said: “What we’re aiming to build is the kind of platform that touches everyone’s life. With the advancement in technology and with Waitrose.com as our partner we aim to make the experience of using this technology a great experience for the customer.”
image courtesy of Ocado