Ocado, one of Kroger's biggest online grocery partners, has entered into a 50/50 joint venture with Marks and Spencer, which announced the completion of its acquisition of half of Ocado earlier this week. As part of the deal, over 6,500 Marks and Spencer food products will be offered on Ocado.com by September 2020.
“I have always believed that M&S Food could and should be online. The addition of Ocado to our family of businesses marks M&S’s first truly transformational step in shaping our future as a digital-first retailer,” said Steve Rowe, CEO of Marks and Spencer. “Through its unique technology, Ocado has developed the most cost advantaged model in online grocery retail, and our new partnership unlocks growth for M&S Food through an immediately profitable, scalable presence in the UK’s fastest growing grocery sales channel. I am absolutely delighted that our JV will be led by Melanie. She is a real talent; who combines extensive retail knowledge, strategic vision, and a focus on delivery.”
Ocado Retail will receive its own CEO and directors. Melanie Smith, the current Strategy Director at Marks and Spencer, will become CEO of Ocado Retail, effective September 1, 2019. Steve Rowe, Stuart Machin (M&S’s Food Managing Director), Tim Steiner, and Duncan Tatton-Brown (Ocado’s Chief Financial Officer) have been assembled to become the directors of Ocado Retail. Lawrence Hene, the current interim Managing Director of Ocado Retail, will be appointed Deputy CEO for a transitional period before moving back into a senior role with the Ocado group.
According to a press release, the new partnership will bring together the strength of Marks and Spencer’s brand and its leading food quality and product development with Ocado’s proprietary technology and award-winning service.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lawrence for his incredible achievements with ocado.com since 2011, which he has been instrumental in growing to the business it is today, and I look forward to continuing to work with him, both during his transitional role at Ocado Retail Limited and when he moves back to the Ocado Group,” Steiner continued.
For the full details of the transaction and rationale, click here. And to stay ahead of more grocery retail news as it pertains to the specialty food industry, stay right here with Deli Market News.