Shares in Ocado tumbled after trustees of the John Lewis pension scheme announced the sale of its stake in the online retailer.

The John Lewis Partnership Pensions Trust held 57.3 million shares in Ocado, representing 10.4% of the company's stock.

It is selling the shares at 265p, 7% below yesterday’s closing price. As part of the sale, the trust’s representative on Ocado’s board, Patrick Lewis, will step down.

News of the sale saw Ocado’s valuation plummet in early trading, at one stage falling as low as 238p a share. The company’s stock had made major gains in recent months, hitting a high of 290p.

Ocado was boosted last month by news of its first-ever quarterly profits, although the £300,000 gain recorded in the final three months of the year was offset by annual losses of £12m in 2010.

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