Ocado Group’s UK retail business, a joint venture with Marks & Spencer, reported a decline in annual sales for the first time yesterday (The Times £). Sales at Ocado’s UK retail business inched up towards the end of 2022 but failed to match the growth rates at mainstream supermarkets, while its forecasts for the current year fell short of expectations (Financial Times £).

Ocado Retail enjoyed record sales over Christmas but customers are putting fewer items in their baskets in response to higher prices and the cost of living crisis (The Guardian). Ocado has joined rival supermarkets in reporting record Christmas sales but revealed falling revenues as shoppers put fewer items in their baskets (Daily Mail). Shoppers using online grocer Ocado are buying fewer items as they struggle with the soaring cost of living (BBC).

The so-called pandemic winners are fast turning into post-Covid losers, and none more than Ocado. The grocery delivery company had a belter of a time during lockdowns… but reality has quickly set in and while some may not have returned to the office every day, they have gone back to supermarkets and restaurants (Daily Mail).

Ocado’s share price drop is odd given that Marks & Spencer’s stock hardly wavered. Analysts ascribe a small proportion – perhaps as low as a tenth – of Ocado’s market value to the JV. One theory is that its bad news is a poor advertisement for Ocado’s broader business model (Financial Times £).

Asda’s £600m takeover of the Co-op’s petrol forecourts is being investigated by the competition watchdog (The Times £).

The struggling online shopping group THG has said its profits will disappoint for the third time in a year, blaming delivery disruption, contract delays and falling sales at one of its key divisions (The Guardian). The beauty arm of Matthew Moulding’s THG empire is considering selling loss-making businesses after it was hit by a slowdown in sales over Christmas (The Times £). THG has cut its profit forecasts for the fourth time in 12 months and axed 2,000 jobs, underlining the challenge facing the e-commerce group that was hailed as a great hope for the British technology sector when it floated in 2020 (Financial Times £). THG’s woes continued as it slashed its profit forecasts in yet another blow to founder Matt Moulding (Daily Mail).

Diageo has strengthened its hand in super-premium spirit brands with the acquisition of Don Papa Rum in a deal worth up to €437.5m (The Times £). Diageo has agreed to buy the high-end Philippine rum brand Don Papa in a deal that could be worth more than €400m, marking the rise of the liquor as a “super-premium” drink alongside whisky and tequila (Financial Times £). Diageo has snapped up Filipino rum maker Don Papa in a deal worth up to £388m as its hunt for upmarket brands continues (Daily Mail).

‘Bloody hard work’: baker Warburtons battles soaring food inflation. Family business says sky-high bills for energy and wheat are causing friction as customers experience cost of living crisis (The Guardian).

Consumers reliant on supermarkets’ budget ranges bore the brunt of food price inflation in the run-up to Christmas, with increases far outstripping those for luxury own-label and premium brands, according to a survey (The Guardian). The price of grocery staples – including butter, milk and cheese – has risen by up to 30% in the last year, according to a new Which? inflation tracker (Sky News).

Revolution Bars Group is shutting some of its late-night venues on Mondays and Tuesdays to save on energy costs after issuing a profits warning (The Times £). Revolution Bars will continue shutting some venues on Mondays and Tuesdays into next month to save on energy costs after train strikes dashed its hopes for a lucrative Christmas (Daily Mail).

The quintessential Wimbledon treat of strawberries and cream might never be the same again after a white variety of the fruit went on sale. White strawberries, which are covered in red seeds, have been put on the shelves at Marks & Spencer, which is understood to be the first British retailer to start selling them (The Times £).

Jollyes, the pet retailer, has said that new outlets and demand for in-store shopping helped it deliver “record” Christmas sales (The Times £).

A British sauvignon blanc wine has been named one of the “best in the world” in a blind tasting competition (Sky News).