Online retailer Ocado is plotting a flotation on the stock exchange.

Finance director Jason Gissing today told The Grocer that rumours concerning a move to the stock market were correct.

The news comes after The Times reported that Gissing had been encouraged by the initial public offering of American online restaurant booking service OpenTable, which floated while breaking even.

A flotation could now come as early next year.

Speculation that the retailer was eyeing a stock market debut has been rife for a number of years, despite Gissing repeatedly saying that the company was not ready for the move.

Accounts released in October last year showed Ocado made a loss of £39.7m in the year to 2 December, 2007. At the time, Gissing told The Grocer that the company had moved into profit at an EBITDA level in the final weeks of 2007 and was expected to make a profit of between £1m and £2m in the current financial year, before interest and other one-off items.