Ocado is planning to plough money generated by floating on the Stock Exchange into at least one new distribution centre, either in the Midlands or the south of England, sources close to the retailer have claimed.

The retailer is soon to appoint advisers for an initial public offering, valuing the company at close to £1bn, and turn Ocado into a public company by May.

It is understood founders Tim Steiner and Jason Gissing will stay with the business "for the foreseeable future" and retain a significant shareholding. "Tim in particular is very dedicated," said one source. Gissing stood aside as finance director last year to concentrate on marketing after telling The Grocer: "I would rather shoot myself than be FD of a listed company." Andrew Bracey joined as finance director in September to prepare for flotation.

The directors are keen to expand from Ocado's one main base in Hatfield and have been "tentatively in the market in the Midlands and the western corridor for the last year or so", viewing sites for at least one new DC, The Grocer has learnt. Another source confirmed Ocado was considering two new "customer fulfilment centres, one in the West Midlands and another near London".

Last year, Ocado representatives viewed an existing 250,000 sq ft warehouse in Thatcham, Berkshire, but dismissed it because it didn't have enough space for Ocado's delivery vans. "They want a site to build their own thing. They have been in meetings with developers in the past few months," said a source.

Ocado declined to comment. However, the market for sites is highly competitive.

"It is an endemic problem in the UK that there are not many sites the further south you go," said Charles Blake, development manager at Gazeley.

"In the south they will find it difficult, in the Midlands easier, in the north very easy. I'd have thought they have only a handful of options in the Midlands and less than a handful in the south."