Online grocer Ocado Retail reports a 10.6% dip in revenues following a fire at its London warehouse
- The firm is a joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer
- During the same quarter in 2020 the firm witnessed a 54% rise in revenues
- A 16 July fire at a depot in Erith, southeast London, caused delivery problems
- Ocado Retail estimates it lost up to 300,000 orders, or around £35m of revenue
Online grocer Ocado Retail has reported a 10.6 per cent fall in revenue in its latest quarter, after a fire at its London warehouse disrupted operations over the summer.
The Hatfield-headquartered firm, which is a joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer, recorded a 54 per cent rise in revenue in the same quarter in 2020 when ongoing pandemic restrictions drove significant demand during the typically slower summer months.
Overall, revenue totalled £517.5 million in the third quarter to 29 August versus £578.8 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue had grown 19.8 per cent in its first half.
Online grocer Ocado Retail has reported a 10.6 per cent fall in revenue in its latest quarter, after a fire at its London warehouse disrupted operations over the summer
The retailer said that over the first six weeks of the quarter it performed in line with expectations, with revenue down 1.8 per cent, reflecting strong comparative numbers with last year.
However, in the seven weeks after the 16 July fire at the depot in Erith, southeast London, revenue declined by 19 per cent.
In addition to cancelling orders in the week following the fire, the temporary reduction in capacity reduced its ability to offer slots to new customers.
Ocado Retail estimates that during that period of temporary disruption it lost around 300,000 orders, or around £35 million of revenue.
Operating losses during the second half due to the business disruption, primarily lost orders, caused by the fire were estimated at around £10 million.
In addition, the impact of stock and fixed asset write-offs and other incremental costs associated with the fire are estimated to also be around £10 million.
Additional safety measures have been put in place at Erith, and Ocado Retail expects pre-fire capacity to be fully restored by the end of November in time for what the business expects to be ‘strong Christmas trading’.
It was the third fire to hit an Ocado warehouse in three years, with its site in Andover, Hampshire, only recently returning to full operation two years after a blaze.
Despite the falls, Ocado said it signed up 64,000 new customers during the period, with 805,000 in total, and orders per week rose 22 per cent.
However, the average basket size was down 12 per cent to £124 compared with £141 a year ago.
The online supermarket also highlighted the rising costs of labour, particularly for delivery and truck drivers.
It said that may result in an up to £5 million hit to full-year numbers, reflecting higher hourly pay rates and signing-on bonuses.
But it added: ‘We will be working to mitigate these costs as best we can.’
Looking ahead, the joint venture forecasts a ‘strong’ revenue growth in its 2021-22 year and beyond with new warehouses set to open in Bicester and Luton, which will extend total capacity even further to around 700,000 orders per week.
Tim Steiner, chairman of Ocado Retail, said: ‘Despite the challenges we faced in the period, I am delighted to report that Ocado Retail is performing well, improving the customer experience even further and continuing to grow the business in a post-lockdown environment.’