Waitrose MD Mark Price claims the retailer's expansion of its online service into London will steal market share from Tesco not Ocado.

Describing Ocado as a "business partner", Price said his goal was for Waitrose and Ocado to overtake Tesco in online grocery sales in London. Tesco was the biggest player in the London area, accounting for more than 30% of online grocery sales, he said. Ocado and Waitrose had a combined market share of about 23%.

As Waitrose expanded its online offer in London after a no-compete deal with Ocado expired in July, it would target areas where Ocado was not well established, added Price.

He downplayed the well-publicised problems with Waitrose's internet platform, saying sales had accelerated in the past six months rising 37% on last year. The service would get a further boost next month when a new dark store in Acton starts operating, he added.

The comments came ­as Waitrose reported a fall of almost 14% in half-year operating profits despite a 4% increase in like-for-like sales. The supermarket tripled its capital expenditure compared with the same period last year to support its expansion plans and "absorbed the majority of inflation" instead of passing on costs to consumers.