Ocado Sales Beat Estimates as Web Grocer Vows to Top Rivals

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Ocado Group Plc, the U.K.’s largest online-only food retailer, posted first-quarter sales that slightly exceeded analysts’ estimates and said it expects to stay ahead of the pack in a tough food retail market.

Revenue rose 15 percent to 252 million pounds ($380 million), excluding income from a distribution agreement with Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc, the Hatfield, England-based company said in a statement Tuesday. That compared with growth of 18 percent in the same period last year and the median analyst estimate of 14.5 percent.

“We remain committed to improving the quality of the proposition to customers, which we believe will support further growth,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Steiner said in the statement. “Notwithstanding the uncertainty that remains in the marketplace, we expect to continue growing slightly ahead of the online grocery market.”

The shares rose 0.6 percent to 372.6 pence at 8:09 a.m. in London. They’ve fallen 6.9 percent this year.

Ocado reported its first annual pretax profit in February, as it benefited from the growing number of British customers shopping for groceries online. The 15-year-old company is seeking opportunities to partner with international retailers, augmenting distribution agreements it has with U.K. supermarkets Morrison and Waitrose. In February, Ocado said it was in discussions to either introduce or improve the online retail business of several potential partners.