Efforts by Ocado to shed its upmarket image appear to have helped it attract a wider range of shoppers, as figures show the online grocer’s customer numbers rose sharply in the first half of its financial year. Tim Steiner, chief executive of the company which delivers in vans bearing the slogan “cheaper than you think”, said: “We are becoming really mainstream and we are taking mainstream customers from the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda”. (The Guardian)

Meanwhile, Ocado reiterated its target of signing a first agreement with an overseas retailer during 2015, as it reported an 11.4% rise in first half core earnings. Discussions continue with multiple potential international partners to adopt Ocado Smart Platform with [a] target to sign [a] first agreement in 2015,” the firm said. (The Telegraph)

However, Ocado’s first half pre-tax profit dipped to £7.2m from £7.5m last year as the online grocer continues to eschew “short-termism” in favour of investment in ambitious long-term growth plans. (The Times £)

Steiner also revealed that Ocado was studying its options with regard to its supply contract with Waitrose, which could be terminated from 2017. There is an 18-month notice period, meaning either side could give notice later this year. “We will be considering what our options are in 2017,” he said. “We have been considering these for a while. It is a major contract.” (The Financial Times £)

Elsewhere, Morrisons has grown its share of grocery spending for the first time in almost four years as new boss David Potts shows signs of turning around the embattled supermarket group. Morrisons grew sales by 0.6% in the 12 weeks to June 21 compared to the same period last year. (The Telegraph)

In contrast, Yorkshire rival Asda is continuing to bear the brunt of Britain’s bitter supermarket price war, according to an industry survey that showed sales falling sharply at the Walmart-owned grocer. In the 12 weeks to 21 June, Asda’s sales fell 3.5%, making it the worst performer in the sector, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel. (The Guardian)

Sainsbury’s and M&S face investor revolt after shareholder group Pirc raises alarm over lavish pay rewards given to senior executives. The shareholder group said the termination arrangement for former Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King was ‘not considered acceptable’ because his long term incentives should have been pro-rated for the period served. At Marks & Spencer the long-term incentive plan that is being renewed with a maximum limit of 300 per cent of salary was ‘considered excessive’. (The Daily Mail)

ConAgra Foods, the maker of Swiss Miss and Chef Boyardee, has reversed course on its private brands business, putting the unit up for sale less than three years after it spent $5bn on Ralcorp. Falling sales and profits at ConAgra’s private brands business led to a $1.3bn goodwill writedown last year. (The Financial Times £)

Diageo surprised the market yesterday by moving its chief financial officer, Deirdre Mahlan, to fill the key post of president of its business in North American, by far its biggest market. Mahlan, who is American, will take over from Larry Schwartz, who recently announced that he would be retiring at the end of the year. (The Times £)

Shoppers will receive their online orders within an hour through Amazon’s latest attempt to dramatically shake-up the retail industry. The online retailer has launched a new service called Amazon Prime Now that offers shoppers one-hour delivery on their orders for £6.99. The initiative highlights the next stage of the battleground for retailers, with chains trying to make the collection and delivery of orders more convenient. (The Telegraph)