Ocado reports slower growth

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​O​nline ​retailer​ Ocado​, which delivers groceries for Waitrose and Morrisons, reported a slowdown in sales growth ​over the past four months, reflecting the cut-throat retail market.

​​The company said gross retail sales rose 13.0 per​ ​cent to ​£​351.8m in ​its fourth quarter which covers ​the 16 weeks to Nov​ember​ 29, ​below the 15.3 per​ ​cent in its third quarter.​

Ocado disappointed analysts by giving no update on a​ long awaited​ first technology deal with an overseas partner​, which it had aimed to sign in 2015.

I​n September ​Ocado said ​it was confident of achieving ​an overseas ​before the end of the year, with the focus on possible partners in north America and western Europe.

Analysts see securing international deals as the key influence on Ocado’s stock market valuation.

Ocado’s average orders per week ​rose 15.8 per​ ​cent to 205,000, ​al​though average order size dipped 2.3 per​ ​cent to ​£​107.16 ​as consumers tighten their belts on grocery spending, preferring to spend pay increases on holidays and big ticket items.

Chief ​e​xecutive Tim Steiner said the grocery market ​remains ​challenging and competitive.

“We anticipate the retail environment to remain challenging, but expect to continue growing sales ahead of the online grocery market,” he said.