Ocado delivery van

Ocado sales were up 20.1% in the fourth quarter

Ocado has reported strong Christmas and fourth quarter trading, with sales growth accelerating in the run up to the festive season.

The online grocer reported sales growth of 20.1% to £271m for the fourth quarter ending 1 December and growth of 21.3% in the six weeks to 5 January. In the seven days up to Christmas sales were up 29%.

The figures represent a significant improvement on the 16.4% growth in the third quarter.

Ocado said it benefited from the extra capacity available at its new fulfilment centre in Dordon, Warwickshire.

“We are pleased with the progress in our underlying trading reflecting the further improvements to our proposition to customers and consumers’ increasing desire to shop online for their groceries,” said Ocado CEO Tim Steiner.

Steiner also said he was pleased to have enabled the launch of Morrisons.com.

“This has been possible due to the strength of our best-in-class technology platform, the efforts of the teams involved at Ocado, and the continuing strong collaboration with Morrisons,” he said.

Analysts said the trading figures were encouraging.

“We are encouraged by the continuation of strong sales growth momentum into full-year 2014,” said Goldman Sachs analyst Frank Walding.

“More importantly, today’s trading update confirms that Ocado.com’s growth was nearly double that of both Tesco and Sainsbury’s online grocery growth rate through the six-week Christmas trading period.”