Losses at Ocado rose to half a billion pounds as the UK retail and technology group invested more in international expansion and shoppers tightened their belts in its home market (Financial Times £). Ocado Group has fallen to a full-year loss that was worse than expected after the company took on a big accounting charge and as profits at its joint venture with Marks & Spencer were wiped out (The Times £). Annual losses at Ocado have skyrocketed as shoppers cut back on online grocery purchases and costs were driven up by inflation and technology spending (Daily Mail).

Ocado is pausing the rollout of new distribution centres in the UK after making a record annual loss of more than £500m – as customers rein in spending (The Guardian).

Online grocer Ocado has stepped up the battle between supermarkets by announcing it will price-match 10,000 Tesco goods (BBC).

As advertisements go, Ocado’s retail joint venture with Marks & Spencer makes for a flimsy promotion for the “picking and packing” technology that it’s flogging around the rest of the market. The grocery delivery specialist is suffering an almighty post-pandemic comedown, hastened by people tightening spending (The Times £).

In The Times, Alistair Osborne writes: “The [UK is the] shop window from which Steiner has not only pulled in overseas players but also built Ocado’s endless jam-tomorrow story: salesmanship you’d expect from an ex-Goldman Sachs banker… Yet, after more than two decades, the only jam-today story has mainly been for him… as for investors, they’re still waiting for reliable deliveries” (The Times £).

Nils Pratley in The Guardian writes: “Isn’t the real prize the annuity-like streams of income that will eventually flow from revenue-based contracts? Well, yes and no. In the very long term, the international adventures – from France to the US to Korea – will indeed be the crucial contributor if Ocado’s share price of 549p is ever to get close again to the frothy £28 seen during Covid. But the UK operation is not irrelevant to the wider story” (The Guardian).

Ocado is the biggest loser in the supermarket price war, writes The Telegraph’s Ben Marlow. “The company maintains that it is possible to make money as the shift to online accelerates, yet it has only posted a profit twice in the last two decades and now it is having to contend with a cost of living crunch in which overstretched families are flocking to the discounters, trading down to no-frills labels, and spending less” (Telegraph £).

Sky’s Ian King explains why Ocado’s share price has continued to decline, with the company’s latest annual results offering little comfort to investors and ammunition to its critics among analysts. “Investors have been asked to be patient, to carry on backing the company as it rolls out its technology and builds new partnerships around the world. The profits, they were promised, will eventually roll in. A glance at Ocado’s full-year results, published on Tuesday, would suggest to the casual reader the company is winning that argument” (Sky News).

“After losing £1.5bn, Ocado remains as committed as ever to losing money,” writes The FT’s Alphaville. “There are two schools of thought on Ocado. It’s either a technological innovator whose unique licensing proposition is disrupting a $2tn+ global market, or it’s a grocery delivery company that subsidises its customers. Whichever way, Ocado burns cash. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of cash” (Financial Times £).

Grocery price inflation reached a high of 17.1% last month, with the fastest rises recorded in essentials such as milk, eggs and margarine (The Times £). UK grocery prices rose at their fastest pace in 15 years, according the most recent data from a closely watched survey, in contrast to latest official figures that suggested food inflation was slowing down (Financial Times £). UK grocery inflation continued to climb during February to reach a new record high of 17.1%, according to closely-watched industry data (Sky News). Already struggling households face paying an extra £811 for their average annual food bill as supermarket inflation hits record 17.1% (Daily Mail).

Aldi’s lead over rival Morrisons widens as the private equity-owned grocer suffers another slide in sales (Daily Mail).

A quarter of British people say they are struggling financially as fresh food inflation hits the highest level on record after the weakening pound made imports from Europe more expensive (The Guardian).

Sainsbury’s plans to close two Argos depots over the next three years in a move that will put 1,400 jobs at risk (The Times £, BBC). Sainsbury’s is planning to close two Argos distribution centres, putting up to 1,400 jobs at risk, and will ditch the catalogue shop’s Milton Keynes head office and three remaining Habitat showrooms to cut costs (The Guardian). It is expected to take place over the next three years as part of a wider shake-up of its general merchandise operations across the group that would see its major warehouses cut from five to three (Sky News).

The Thai and Austrian owners of Selfridges have laden the upmarket department store with more than £1.7bn of debt in a higher-risk strategy that could significantly increase investment returns (Telegraph £).

Spain’s fruit and vegetable exports to the UK have suffered “no fundamental disruption” from Brexit despite salad shortages in British supermarkets and added costs for exporters, the country’s agriculture minister has said (Financial Times £).

“We’re just relieved there is a way forward,” says Jamie Keeble, co-founder of Heck Food. The family-run Yorkshire sausage producer says there has always been demand for its products in Northern Ireland but it has been “hamstrung” by the Brexit trading rules (BBC).

Climate-resistant grapes? Spanish winemakers revive ancient varieties. Forgotten grape varieties offer adaptation hope for an industry particularly sensitive to change (The Guardian).

A further 2,000 pubs are at risk of closure, threatening 25,000 jobs, unless the chancellor comes to the sector’s aid in this month’s budget, according to an industry body (Sky News).