Ocado reports first annual profit

Ocado delivery man with boxes and van Image copyright Ocado/Newscast

Online grocer Ocado has reported a full-year pre-tax profit for the first time since launching in 2000.

The company reported a pre-tax profit of £7.2m last year on the back of a 20% jump in sales to £948.9m. The company made a loss of £12.5m in 2013.

Ocado's customer base grew by almost 70,000 to 453,000.

The company has benefited from a tie-up with Morrisons in 2013, and continues to deliver goods from Waitrose.

"We continued to grow ahead of the online grocery market and significantly ahead of the market overall," said Ocado's chief executive Tim Steiner.

He added that the agreement with Morrisons, the UK's fourth-biggest supermarket chain, would pave the way for similar deals with other retailers.

The company said the average spend per transaction of its customers was £112.25.

Investors welcomed the landmark profit, with Ocado shares almost 5% higher in afternoon trading.

"After a decade and a half of trying, Ocado has worked out how to deliver baked beans, ice cream, Jaffa Cakes and chipotle chillies without booking a bottom-line loss," said Clive Black at retail analyst Shore Capital.

He warned, however, that the company would continue to face high investment costs and weak profits.

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