ONLINE retailer Ocado has scraped its first ever half-year profit but revealed that sales growth had slowed and more orders were delivered late as it struggled to keep up with demand.
The grocer, which sells Waitrose products to much of the UK, made pre-tax profits of £200,000 in the 24 weeks to May 15, compared to losses of £6.7m the previous year.
It admitted that the number of orders delivered on time decreased to 92.7% from 94.9% in the period, which it blamed on capacity issues at its main distribution centre in Hatfield. Efficiency of order picking at the centre also declined.
But it said it would spend £80m in 2011 and 2012 increasing the capacity at the site and pledged its performance and efficiency would improve as the investment paid off.
Sales increased 20.8% to £296.7m, down from 24.7% in the first 12 weeks of the period.
Ocado has also announced a tie-up with French supermarket giant Carrefour, which will see it trial a range of authentic French products called Reflets de France from July 14.
It also expanded the number of its Ocado branded products by 100 to 350 in the period.
The online grocer faces stiff competition from other supermarkets’ online offers, which will be stepped up as Morrisons enters the market.