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Ocado Maintains Full-Year Outlook Despite First-Half Loss

Ocado Group,  the British online supermarket and technology company, maintained its full-year outlook that was cut in May as it dipped to a first-half loss driven by a fall in sales at its retail joint venture with Marks & Spencer.

The group said on Thursday that it made a loss before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £14 million ($16.8 million) in the six months to 29 May, versus earnings of £61 million in the same period of its 2020-21 year.

EBITDA Reduction 

The Ocado Retail venture saw a £72.8 million reduction in EBITDA due to an 8% fall in sales and cost inflation.

It said the sales fall reflected tough comparatives as the grocery market contracted after the pandemic and a cost of living crisis took hold in Britain.

The group, whose shares have lost half their value so far this year, also reported a first-half pretax loss of £211 million.

In May, the Ocado Retail warned sales this financial year would grow in the low single digits rather than the 10% it previously guided, while its core earnings margin would be in the low single digits.

CEO To Step Down 

On Tuesday, Ocado Retail said its CEO, Melanie Smith, will leave the business at the end of next month.

Prior to Ocado's update, analysts on average forecast full year 2021-22 EBITDA of just £4 million, versus £61 million made in 2020-21.

They were also forecasting an underlying pretax loss of £353 million, versus a loss of £177 million in 2020-21.

Having last month raised £578 million from investors, Ocado said that no further group financing was expected to be required into the mid-term, as the business becomes cash flow positive.

The group forecast full year capital expenditure of £800 million as it rolls out its warehouse technology with grocery partners around the world.

In May, it detailed a path to over £6.3 billion in revenue and over £750 million in EBITDA in up to six years.

Read More: UK Online Grocer Ocado Retail Cuts Growth Forecast In Tough Market

News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more Retail stories, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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