The boss of Ocado has declared that shoppers “won’t be going back” after the crisis spurred a rapid shift to online shopping and pushed its half-year sales above £1 billion for the first time (The Times £). Ocado raked in half-year sales of £1billion for the first time ever as founder Tim Steiner declared ‘the world has changed’ (The Daily Mail). Ocado has 1 million customers waiting to join its online grocery service after struggling to cope with a surge in demand during the coronavirus pandemic (The Guardian).
Ocado forecast that the shift to online grocery would continue long after coronavirus has abated, as it revealed it had more than 1m people on a waiting list for its UK grocery service (The Financial Times £). Shoppers will shun supermarkets for good after embracing online sales during lockdown, the boss of internet grocer Ocado has said (The Telegraph).
Ben Marlow in The Telegraph suggests the coronavirus crisis represents “something of a missed opportunity”. He writes: “It remains stuck in the red. Pre-tax losses were £41m this time around after heavy spending on the roll-out of its technology overseas. Meanwhile, its systems emphatically failed to cope with lockdown demand.” (The Telegraph)
The FT notes: “Despite the most favourable tailwinds imaginable during the first half of 2020, somehow the “Microsoft of Retail” contrived to burn £26.5m of cash flow. Bringing its total cash burn since its 2010 initial public offering to £574m… In a way, credit should go to its investors who have been willing to listen to the story attentively, even if they don’t know how it will end.” (The Financial Times £)
The Swedish oat milk maker Oatly has been valued at about $2bn in a funding round led by the world’s largest private equity firm Blackstone that also drew in Oprah Winfrey and the entertainment agency founded by rapper Jay-Z (The Financial Times £). Oatly has sold a minority $200m (£157m) stake to a group of high-profile investors that includes Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z in a deal that values the fashionable Swedish alt-milk brand at $2bn (The Guardian). The move is a sign of growing interest in milk made with plant alternatives. Oatly said the money would be used to expand and build new production plants (The BBC).
The UK’s first online shopping service that delivers food, drink and household essentials from leading brands in reusable packaging is to launch on Wednesday, aiming to kickstart moves to reduce single use plastic that stalled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic (The Guardian). Tesco is trialling a scheme in the UK where online shoppers will get products in reusable packaging. The supermarket giant is joining forces with Loop, which styles itself as a “zero waste shopping platform” (The BBC).
Fevertree Drinks said that while the “positive momentum” in mixer sales through retailers since March had continued, the switch back to on-trade consumption was likely to be only gradual amid social distancing and reduced capacity. (The Times £)
Lidl will open one new store per week between now and Christmas, creating up to 1,000 jobs, as part of plans to expand to 1,000 supermarkets by the end of 2023. (The Daily Mail)
The hospitality and tourism sectors are set to benefit from a reduction in VAT from today - but there are concerns the savings might not be passed on to consumers (Sky News). A £4bn cut in VAT has come into force, allowing firms in the food, drink and hospitality sectors to slash prices. Starbucks and McDonald’s are the latest firms to promise reductions after the chancellor ordered a temporary VAT cut from 20% to 5% (The BBC).
Police have warned it will be impossible to enforce new rules requiring people to wear face masks in shops as it becomes compulsory from July 24 (The Telegraph). Peter Cowgill, executive chair of the FTSE 100 company JD Sports, said the government’s rule that face coverings should be worn in shops from 24 July would probably prove a “turn off” for its teenagers and twentysomethings buyers (The Guardian).
The Chinese owners of Pizza Express are likely to be all but wiped out in a restructuring expected to involve a debt-for-equity swap. (The Times £)
Walmart is leading a $1.2bn funding round into its Indian ecommerce service Flipkart as it faces challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and the entrance of rival platform JioMart. (The Financial Times £)
Burger King has tweaked the diet of some of its cows in a bid to tackle climate change. The cows will eat 100 grams of lemongrass daily in the hopes of reducing methane emissions by 33% a day. (Sky News)