Ocado stops deliveries to staff as tie-up with Marks & Spencer starts

Ocado has temporarily suspended deliveries to its employees as the online grocer battles to clear a backlog following a new tie-up with Marks & Spencer.

Ocado said the move would free up space for customer orders, after apparent teething problems in the newly launched partnership caused it to cancel customer deliveries on its first day on Tuesday.

An Ocado spokeswoman could not say how many staff orders were affected. Employees of the company usually receive a 15% discount on grocery orders, among other benefits.

The spokeswoman said: “The M&S launch has been incredibly popular. To help minimise the impact of the surge in demand on our customers, the deliveries for Ocado colleagues were paused for the first few days.”

The M&S launch has been closely followed by the retail industry after Ocado ended a 20-year partnership with Waitrose. Waitrose has launched a marketing push to persuade customers to move to its website, rather than remaining with Ocado and switching to M&S products.

The Ocado deal is also an important move for M&S, whose grocery delivery services were previously limited to party food. M&S last month announced it was cutting 7,000 jobs in management and stores as it tried to reduce costs.

Lockdowns prompted a surge in demand for online shopping across the retail industry, but growth in online orders of essential grocery shopping in particular has accelerated far beyond what analysts had expected.

The consequent increased investor interest propelled Ocado’s share price to record highs above £25 per share on Wednesday, compared with below £13 at the start of the year.

The pause on staff orders was first reported by Retail Week.

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