Shares in Ocado slumped 12% this morning on news of a slowdown in sales growth.
Gross sales growth for the 12 weeks to 7 August was 16.9%, down from 17.2% in the second quarter.
Ocado said it would be targeting a higher rate of growth in the final quarter of the year but warned that weakening consumer confidence could affect sales.
“This target does require us to be resilient to any further slowdown in consumer spending,” said Ocado chief financial officer Andrew Bracey.
Meanwhile, the online grocer has launched a new savings club offering regular shoppers discounts of at least 10% on 500 branded products.
The ‘Saving Pass’, which costs £8.99 a year, will give Ocado customers discounts on branded products from the likes of Pepsi, Pampers and Pantene, including many products already sold under its Tesco price match guarantee. Regular shoppers could save over £100 a year with the new pass, Ocado claimed.
The offer was sent out today to those customers who have used Ocado the longest. It will gradually be released to all shoppers over the coming months.
Ocado said it did not expect the introduction of the savings club to affect its gross margins. But it warned today that margins for the year would be slightly below earlier expectations, after sales growth slowed and investment was made on improving customer service.
That investment meant the percentage of items delivered as ordered rose to 99% – up from 95.5% earlier in the year.
Ocado signs supply deal with Scheckter's ‘university of organics’ (16 September 2011)
Ocado and Daylesford build virtual farm shop (27 August 2011)