Ocado’s chief financial officer, Jason Gissing, has defended the online retailer’s assertion that it will begin making a tangible profit during 2006 despite recording a loss of £40.5m for the year ending November 30, 2004.
In view of the loss, Sir Stuart Hampson, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, was forced to defend its major investment in Ocado - which sells Waitrose groceries - in its in-house Gazette after being grilled by a disgruntled employee.
Hampson said: “When the Partnership Board took the decision to invest we did so on the basis that this represented a higher risk than the investments we make in our own shops.
“We fully recognised that the path to profit was likely to be considerably slower than more optimistic projections suggested.”
He pointed to the readiness of other serious investors to back Ocado as an indication of confidence in its future.
Gissing said the loss was expected and that Ocado reached operating profit in the last part of 2005. “Even when we are operationally profitable we still lose money, as we are not covering marketing or head office costs,” he said. “That will shift during the next year.”

A leading olive oil supplier has warned that the category is moving into uncharted territory as a surge in prices shows no sign of decelerating. Drought in the Mediterranean and a resulting serious crop shortfall are fuelling the increase in prices which, says Walter Zanré, country manager for leading UK olive oil brand Filippo Berio, have rocketed by 70% since 2004.
One in 10 young people never cook a proper meal, a survey by the Department of Health as part its 5-a-day programme has shown. However, if someone else is cooking, the favourite meal for 16 to 24-year-olds is a traditional roast, followed by curry. Favourite vegetables are carrots and peas.
The Co-operative Group could face strike action after its decision to close its final salary pension scheme to existing workers. The group wants employees to join a career average scheme that could result in many staff receiving lower payouts. The T&G union was “angry and disappointed”. It expected members to call for industrial action.
The Portman Group, which promotes responsible drinking and is funded by drinks companies, has defended the industry against criticism. It said a call by Alcohol Concern for a government clampdown on advertising was based on irrelevant US research that claimed youngsters aged 15-26 drank 3% more per dollar spent on advertising targeting them.
Wine retailer Majestic Wine said its sales had grown 5.2% over the Christmas period in the nine weeks from November 1 to January 2. Chief executive Tim How said: “Wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Spain, Chile and New Zealand sold very well.”
Olive oil prices up
Youth don’t cook
strike on the way?
criticism dismissed
Wine sales grow