* FY pretax loss 12.5 mln stg vs loss of 0.6 mln stg
* FY revenue 792.1 mln stg, up 18.8 pct
* Sees 2014 sales growth in line, or slightly ahead, of
* Co-founder Jason Gissing to quit firm in May
* Shares fall up to 6.3 pct, up 394 pct over last year
By James Davey
LONDON, Feb 4 British online grocer Ocado
said investors should not expect more third-party deals
any time soon similar to one signed last year with Morrisons
, the UK's No. 4 supermarket, as it was focused on
ramping up this partnership.
Shares in Ocado have risen nearly five-fold over the last 12
months mainly on the back of the 200 million pounds-plus ($327
million) deal with Morrisons to provide its online
grocery operation, and on hopes it could do similar deals
"Having a successful launch for our first
business-to-business customer is enormously important for us,"
Chief Executive Tim Steiner told reporters on Tuesday.
"We are spending a lot of time and money on preparing
ourselves for further expansion beyond Ocado.com and
Morrisons.com but we aren't expecting any imminent announcements
However, he added that the firm saw "massive opportunity"
overseas and was talking to global grocers "on a daily basis".
Steiner was speaking after Ocado posted a wider loss for its
2012-13 financial year, but said it was well positioned for
2013-14 - a year when analysts expect it to make a pretax profit
for the first time.
Ocado also said on Tuesday its co-founder and commercial
director Jason Gissing would retire from the board at the annual
shareholder meeting in May and leave the company.
It said Gissing, who owns about 3 percent of Ocado's equity,
wanted to spend more time with his family and focus on
environmental and social issues.
Ocado was the best performing major stock in Europe in 2013
but fell up to 6.3 percent on Tuesday on the back of Gissing's
departure and the firm's forecast that in 2014 its sales would
grow broadly in line with, or slightly ahead of, the market,
which some analysts said was a bit subdued.
The firm, whose range includes products supplied by upmarket
grocer Waitrose, made a pretax loss of 12.5 million
pounds in the year to Dec. 1, reflecting increased investment in
capacity. That compared with a loss of 0.6 million pounds in the
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation
(EBITDA) rose 35.1 percent to 45.8 million pounds, ahead of
analysts' average forecast of 43 million pounds, on revenue up
18.8 percent to 792.1 million pounds, reflecting an increase in
customer numbers to 385,000 from 355,000 and a rise in average
basket size to 113.53 pounds from 112.1 pounds.
Britain's traditional supermarkets are seeing little, if
any, growth in sales at their big stores, but the online grocery
market is growing strongly.
The UK online grocery market is currently worth 6.5 billion
pounds a year, according to IGD data. It forecasts the market
will grow by 124 percent over the next five years to 14.6
Ocado has not made an annual pretax profit since it was
founded in 2000 but the Morrisons deal, which saw home
deliveries start on Jan. 10, has transformed its prospects.
Before Tuesday's update, analysts were forecasting a 2013-14
underlying pretax profit of 18-19 million pounds.
"The challenge for Ocado is whether it can continue taking
share to the extent required to take it past the profitability
threshold," said analysts at Conlumino.
"To succeed it needs to continuously outstrip the (UK's) Big
Four (grocers) and, as the likes of Tesco and Asda
seek a resurgence, Ocado will find its own comparatives
harder to match."
Ocado also said it was looking at potential sites to
increase its fulfilment capacity and expected to make an
announcement this year.
Shares in the firm were down 23 pence at 500 pence at 1031
GMT, valuing the business at 2.93 billion pounds.