Ocado has appointed Michael Grade as its first non-executive chairman.

The current BBC chairman is set to join the loss-making online retailer in October, after he steps down as chairman of Hemscott, the financial information services firm.

The move marks his first step into the retail arena and has prompted a raft of speculation that the business is readying itself for an imminent flotation on the stock market - which Ocado has denied.

In the past ten years, Grade has been the controller of BBC 1 and the chief executive of Channel 4. Outside of broadcasting Grade chaired the Working Group on the Fear of Crime in 1989, and from 1994 to 1996 was a member of the National Commission of Inquiry into the Prevention of Child Abuse. From 2002 to 2004 he was the chairman of lottery operator Camelot and is director of Charlton Athletic football club.

Grade, who says he is a regular user of Ocado's services, said that he was looking forward to working with the Ocado team. ?