Ocado is planning a massive boost to its coverage of the UK.
The online partnership with Waitrose has identified sites for warehouses to service areas in and around Bristol, Nottingham, Leeds and Sheffield.
Tim Steiner, Ocado chief executive, said that it aimed for a massive sales growth next year. “We grew our sales by 60% this year. However, this is compared with 100% the year before. We have not been able to grow our business as quickly as we would like because we did
not have the capacity.”
Ocado has just opened a warehouse in Southampton and has a small team of delivery drivers in the area, but chief financial officer Jason Gissing said that this would build up as volumes grew.
The Southampton facility has given Ocado a strong foothold across the south of England, while the addition of the new depots is expected to result in Ocado’s service being available across most of England.
Last year Ocado made its first move into the north with a warehouse in Manchester and it currently covers around 40% of the UK population with the capacity to deliver to 11 million households.
Meanwhile, Ocado has reinforced its claim of being the UK’s second-biggest online retailer ahead of Sainsbury.
Steiner claimed that because Ocado had better accuracy of delivery than Sainsbury it was able to make more sales.
He said: “Sainsbury may have more orders but if you have an order worth £100 and you only deliver 92% of this, then you will be losing £8 worth of sales.”
Gissing has called upon Sainsbury to provide an audited weekly sales number that is higher than that achieved by Ocado. If Sainsbury can do this he has promised to donate £10,000 to a charity of its choice.
Gissing said: “We are now bigger than Sainsbury online even though Sainsbury is five times bigger than Waitrose in the UK.”
Steiner said that Ocado was also looking to expand the rage of groceries that it offered over the next year.
In the meantime, Ocado is encouraging shoppers not to miss out on a Christmas week delivery slot by signing up as soon as possible. It has e-mailed regular customers, asking them to make a minimum order of £75 in order to book a delivery, although orders can be changed up to Sunday, December 18.
Ronan Hegarty