|Bid||183.30 x 0|
|Ask||183.40 x 0|
|Day's Range||182.50 - 184.40|
|52 Week Range||157.55 - 211.40|
|Beta (5Y Monthly)||0.28|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||12.74|
|Earnings Date||Sep 10, 2020|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||0.07 (3.59%)|
|Ex-Dividend Date||May 21, 2020|
|1y Target Est||251.79|
Monkey labour to harvest coconuts for commercial products "is almost non-existent" in Thailand, the commerce minister said on Monday, after British retailers announced bans on products campaigners say use the animals in their production. Waitrose, Co-op, Boots and Ocado vowed not to sell products that used monkey labour, while Morrisons has already removed Thai products amid an appeal by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's fiancée Carrie Symonds. Symonds on Friday backed a call to supermarkets to stop selling Thai coconut products over accusations of monkey "slaves" by the rights group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) published in the Telegraph newspaper.
Grocery sales at British convenience stores were up 17% year-on-year in the four weeks to June 13, ahead of the 14% growth in total grocery sales, as consumers in coronavirus lockdown prioritised shopping locally, industry data showed on Tuesday. Market researcher Nielsen said online shopping in lockdown also continued to be popular, with sales soaring 115% compared to the same period last year, and maintaining the 13% share of sales recorded in the previous four-week period. Sales at the Co-Operative rose 15.9%, outperforming Britain's big four major supermarket groups and reflecting the fact that it operates a network of local convenience stores.
Britain's highest court on Wednesday upheld an earlier Court of Appeal ruling that credit card companies Visa and Mastercard restricted competition in the way they set fees for retailers, opening the way for them to seek compensation. The case, which dates back to 1992, was brought by retailers Sainsbury's, Morrisons Asda and Argos and relates to the charges Visa and Mastercard levy on the retailers when cardholders make a transaction - so called default multilateral interchange fees (MIFs). The UK Supreme Court upheld the finding of the Court of Appeal in July 2018 that the MIFs charged within the Visa and MasterCard payment card schemes was an unlawful restriction of both European Union and UK competition law.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- One of the talents of Tim Steiner, chief executive officer of Ocado Group Plc, is knowing how to negotiate from a position of strength.Over the past decade, the U.K.-based trailblazer for online grocery sales has been able to clinch contracts with British food retailers Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc and Marks & Spencer Group Plc, offering digital capabilities just when they were most desperate to expand online. Now Steiner is again living up to form, as he raised 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) this week. The move exploited a soaring share price, a big increase in online grocery orders and a shortage of investment opportunities in the convertible bond market. Quite a feat for a company that has made a pre-tax profit in only a handful of its 20 years of operation.The capital raising is certainly opportunistic. Ocado already had about 1.2 billion pounds in the bank. The excitement around online shopping has also elevated Ocado’s share price, from around 13 pounds at the start of the year to more than 20 pounds before the fundraising announced late Wednesday. The company is right to take advantage of these factors while it can, because they may not be around forever.Steiner clearly thinks there are more gains to be wrung out of the post-pandemic retail landscape. Mindful of the accelerating switch from buying food in stores to simply clicking a mouse or tapping on a smartphone, its online partners around the world, such as U.S. grocer Kroger Co., may want to attack the online grocery market even faster. Ocado also anticipates a surge of interest from other big international supermarkets wanting to use its automated warehouses.Ocado raised 657 million pounds by selling a roughly 5% stake in itself at a 6% discount to Wednesday’s closing price. The rest of the windfall came from selling bonds that will convert into stock if the share price hits 26.46 pounds a piece — more than one-third above where the shares are now. The deal effectively offers Ocado the chance to raise equity at a higher price in the future, minimizing dilution for shareholders.But investors should be aware of another Ocado trait: plowing money into expensive infrastructure with little to show for it by way of returns.Since 2000, Ocado has invested about 1.4 billion pounds in its retail business, according to Mike Dennis, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. But since going public in 2010, it has made a cumulative operating profit of only about 100 million pounds from this division, which is now a joint venture with Marks & Spencer.The company’s thesis has been that more grocery shopping will soon shift away from physical supermarkets and take place online instead. It also believes that relying on big state-of-the art warehouses and robots to fulfill orders is a far more efficient approach than stocking store shelves.It’s right on the first point. Online’s share of food shopping has almost doubled in the U.K. in recent months, according to Nielsen, from 7% before the pandemic to 13% in May. The second point is not as certain. The trouble with Ocado’s model is it needs expensive infrastructure. The more sales grow, the more warehouses and robots are required. As I have pointed out before, stores with employees are more flexible: They don’t need to add huge distribution centers or install whizzy technology — both of which are costly and time-consuming — to scale up. Employees in existing supermarkets can simply pluck more toilet rolls or cans of beans off of their shelves and put them into crates. Ocado’s need for capital gets even more acute when it agrees to operate the online grocery businesses of big international retailers, such as Japan’s Aeon Co., with whom it struck a deal late last year. While these contracts should eventually generate lucrative fee income, they entail a substantial upfront capital cost. The company’s fundraising has preempted a possible spate of new agreements with grocers around the world, tantalized by the prospect of more online shopping, and put an extra billion pounds into its coffers. If Steiner doesn’t use this wisely, he won’t be able to win over shareholders so easily next time around. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has completed a periodic review of the ratings of Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc and other ratings that are associated with the same analytical unit. The review was conducted through a portfolio review in which Moody's reassessed the appropriateness of the ratings in the context of the relevant principal methodology(ies), recent developments, and a comparison of the financial and operating profile to similarly rated peers.
British grocery sales grew 5.5% in the four weeks to April 19, a slowdown from record growth of 20.6% in March when shoppers built up stocks before the country went on coronavirus lockdown, industry data showed on Tuesday. Market researcher Kantar said Britons still spent 524 million pounds ($651 million) more on groceries in the four weeks versus the same period last year.
Britain's big supermarkets fear they won't be able to supply the country's 60 million people without longer opening hours or a relaxation of social distancing rules introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus. What's more, the lockdown has temporarily transferred the eating out market - bars, cafes, restaurants, school meals and workplace canteens - to the home, shifting about 30% of the nation's food consumption back to stores. "The problem is, can you feed 60 million people at the rate you can get people through the stores with that social distancing?" one industry executive told Reuters.
British supermarket group Sainsbury's said on Friday it would start to remove the customer purchasing limits it imposed as a response to increased demand during the coronavirus emergency. Limits will remain in place on the most popular items which include UHT milk, pasta and tinned tomatoes, he said.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A whole generation of tech startups was built on the premise that the most lucrative business models aim to connect people or businesses on one side of the marketplace with people or businesses on the other side.Whether Tinder, Uber Technologies Inc. or Airbnb Inc., the platform theory held that acting as a facilitator for someone else’s offering meant you could scrape off commission while maintaining an asset-light business whose low operational costs rewarded you with high profitability. But no one foresaw an event that would shut down a whole side of the marketplace, and the coronavirus pandemic has done just that. For Airbnb, self-isolation means that nobody is travelling. There is plenty of supply with millions of listings still on the site, but the demand has all but evaporated. The same goes for Uber rides.In food delivery, it’s the supply side that has difficulties. On the whole, services like Uber Eats, Grubhub Inc., Deliveroo and Just Eat Takeaway depend on existing restaurants to cook meals. But for many, if not most, of those restaurants, the main business was still preparing food for on-site dining. Now that’s not possible in the U.K., France, Italy and elsewhere, continuing to operate as a delivery-only operation fundamentally changes the economics of the business: Restaurants still have operating costs, except now they might have to direct a quarter of their income to the food delivery platforms. Many have simply shut their doors completely because they can’t make it work. Chinese delivery platform Meituan Dianping is already feeling the impact, as my colleague Tim Culpan wrote yesterday. (Uber Eats and Grubhub are trying to counter the trend by subsidizing some restaurant costs.)Which is why companies like HelloFresh SE and Blue Apron Holdings Inc., long the subject of Silicon Valley derision, suddenly seem to have very sensible business models. On the surface, they are similar to the food delivery platforms: They too deliver food.The difference is that, because they deliver meal kits they put together in their own kitchens, they control the supply, whereas a firm like Deliveroo has to worry about ensuring it has enough restaurants and customers. HelloFresh’s concern is simply demand. Even then, there’s less need for as high a density of demand than for takeaway food — though of course it helps. Because customers cook the meals themselves, there’s less anxiety about a dish congealing in the panniers of a moped. While Deliveroo has started operating some of its own kitchens, it still has to compete with Grubhub, Just Eat Takeaway and Uber Eats on two fronts. HelloFresh can concentrate on one: customers.The upshot is that business is soaring for the meal-kit firms. HelloFresh said Monday it’s expecting first-quarter sales of between 685 million euros ($750 million) and 710 million euros, up from 420 million euros a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting revenue of 553 million euros. The company anticipates adjusted first-quarter Ebitda of as much as 75 million euros — in just three months, it's set to make about three quarters of the profit that analysts had anticipated for the full year. Uber, which isn't expected to be profitable at all on a similar basis until 2022, has seen just a 10% jump in U.S. orders at its food delivery business, according to The Information.HelloFresh stock is up 70% this year, valuing the Berlin-based firm at 5.2 billion euros — more than Grubhub or grocers Casino Guichard Perrachon SA and Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc. Beleaguered Blue Apron’s shares have jumped more than fourfold from a March 13 low, giving it a $156 million market capitalization, though its ability to capitalize on surging demand is more limited — it has been cutting costs in recent months. Meanwhile HelloFresh is expanding: It plans to add 400 employees at a site in Oxfordshire, near London, according to the BBC.Silicon Valley dogma tends to dictate that assets are bad. But in some instances, more control over the factors of supply can be very satisfying indeed.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) has today downgraded to B2 from Ba3 the long-term corporate family rating (CFR) and to B2-PD from Ba3-PD probability of default rating (PDR) of UK online grocery retailer and technology-driven software and robotics platform business Ocado Group plc (Ocado or the company). Concurrently the rating agency has upgraded to Ba2 from Ba3 the rating of Ocado's GBP225 million outstanding backed senior secured notes due 2024. The outlook has been revised to stable from rating under review and the rating action concludes the review process initiated by Moody's on 3 December 2019.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- This should have been Ocado Plc’s crisis.The online-only grocer should have been capitalizing on shoppers avoiding crowded stores. Instead, last week it temporarily closed its website, potentially upsetting its customers. Still, investors clearly believe that it will emerge as one of the winners from the rush to buy toilet paper and tinned soup. As of Friday, Ocado’s shares were up for the year.But the pandemic has exposed some of the flaws in the group’s business model, which relies heavily on large, state-of-the-art robotic warehouses. Others, such as Walmart, take a more low-tech approach, fulfilling grocery orders from stores, where employees pluck packs of sausages and cereals from shelves for delivery to home or collection from supermarkets. When demand surges, it is much quicker and easier to ramp up the rate of grocery orders from stores compared to warehouses. As long as there are enough loaves of bread and toilet roll, more employees can simply put them into crates to be delivered to homes. In contrast, building and stocking automated warehouse is time-consuming and expensive. That makes Ocado’s business model less flexible.The debate about which approach is best is about to cross the Atlantic. In 2018, Ocado struck a deal to run the online grocery operations of Kroger Co, the U.S.’s second biggest grocer after Walmart. The two U.S. food retail giants will be taking diametrically opposite routes to meeting online demand, which was expected to grow anyway even without the pandemic. We’ll have to see which ultimately wins out, although right now, the ability to quickly scale up and exploit stores looks to have a lot of advantages. Ocado Retail, which is now a joint venture with British high street stalwart Marks & Spencer Group Plc, said last Thursday that so far, sales growth in its second quarter was running at twice the rate of the 10% expansion in the first three months of the year. But sales could have been up 50-100% — if Ocado had enough room or robots to pack more orders.Part of this is bad luck. Just over a year ago, the company suffered a catastrophic fire at its cutting edge facility in Andover, shutting down a space that would have been able to fulfill 60,000 orders a week. It has since clawed back some extra capacity at another facility that was being used by Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc, its first online partner. But it hasn’t been able to make up all that was lost.In contrast, Morrison, which sells through its own website and Amazon, is roughly doubling the number of stores that fulfill online orders to about 100. This isn’t all bad for Ocado, as Morrison’s own website will still use its technology to pick orders. But it does underline the greater flexibility of the old-fashioned approach.Brick-and-mortar grocers have another advantage too: They can be used as pick-up points for customers. In the U.K. this is known as “click and collect”; elsewhere, it's curbside or same-day pick-up. This is a strategy that Walmart has embraced successfully, as it already offers pick-up from 3,200 stores and will add another 500 locations this year. But Ocado is committed to its automated warehouse model, as it believes this delivers the best returns — even though the group has only made a pre-tax profit in a handful of years. The group does also have more traditional warehouse space due to open in the next year or so. And it has other alternatives that it should draw on. For example, it is building a facility in Bristol, which is about half the size of a normal warehouse and takes half the time to construct, around a year. Putting more emphasis on smaller hubs like this, and seeing whether they can be shrunk further, would be wise. This would enable facilities to be built more quickly, making the model more nimble. Another thing the online grocer should think about: It doesn’t have a facility for click and collect right now either. It should explore ways of adding this. From its partnership with Marks & Spencer, Ocado now theoretically has access to a large store estate. Even when this pandemic passes, it will leave a long-lasting impact on the way we purchase. Ocado should learn its lessons now, and adapt its business model accordingly, so it doesn’t have to shut up shop next time there is a crisis.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
British shoppers were queuing around the block early on Thursday morning to buy basic goods such as bottled water and tinned goods ahead of an expected toughening of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Reuters reporters saw more than 100 people queuing in the rain before the 7 opening of a large Sainsbury's store in Clapham Common, south of the river Thames, while a few miles away in Vauxhall queues snaked around another Sainsbury's store. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined the country's biggest supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons in urging shoppers not to stockpile, but the pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
(Bloomberg) -- Ocado Group Plc has temporarily closed its website as it struggles to cope with demand from shoppers trying to stockpile groceries.The U.K. online grocer closed its site until Saturday as it faces a “simply staggering amount of traffic” and is trying to catch up with orders. The site also won’t accept new customers for the time being because it wouldn’t be able to keep up.The closure will allow the company to “complete essential work that will help to make sure distribution of products and delivery slots is as fair and as accessible as possible,” Melanie Smith, chief executive officer of Ocado Retail, said in a statement.Growing fears about the new coronavirus pandemic have prompted stockpiling, even though the British government and grocers have reassured consumers that there is enough food to go around. Ocado said basket sizes have been increasing, with growth in the second quarter so far at twice the rate of the first. The website now has a system by which customers wait in line to be able to order.The stock traded 2.5% higher at 8:18 a.m. in London, bringing the five-day gain to 34%.Britain’s two biggest supermarkets -- Tesco Plc and J Sainsbury Plc -- have recently introduced limits of three items on grocery products in an effort to try to ease the pressure on their supply chains. Other grocers have also introduced rationing. Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc said this week that it planned to hire more workers as it expands its home delivery service to meet demand.Ocado said its retail revenue had risen 10% in the 13 weeks to March 1. The real surge in demand came since then.(Updates with shares)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Panic buying by British shoppers escalated on Wednesday with shelves stripped bare by alarmed customers hoarding for the coronavirus isolation, prompting Tesco and Sainsbury's to restrict purchases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has faced criticism for acting too slowly and too cautiously to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, said on Tuesday that there was no reason to stockpile and that food supplies were safe. In supermarkets across the land, though, shoppers were spooked.
Britain's independent budget office said there was a "very good argument" for the government to act as insurer against coronavirus losses for businesses, ahead of an expected announcement of more help for companies by finance minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday. "There is, I think, a very good argument that the state should be the essentially the insurer here," Charlie Bean, a member of the Office for Budget Responsibility, told lawmakers.
One of Britain's top epidemiologists said on Tuesday that the British government got the timing of its coronavirus strategy about right but that there was no time to lose on moving to more stringent measures. "The measures which have just been taken, the earliest we'd expect to see an effect on the growth of the epidemic is about two to three weeks time," said Professor Neil Ferguson, an expert on the spread of infectious diseases at Imperial College London.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Images of queues to get into supermarkets, and shelves stripped bare, are stoking fear.Worries about the supply of food and staples do not end there. A shortage of online delivery slots is causing concern too, with people now expected to stay at home for lengthy periods. Grocers also have to address the likelihood that their staff will contract the Covid-19 illness.It amounts to a significant operational challenge for food retailers and producers. There are, however, some measures they can take to adapt.Firstly, it makes sense to simplify ranges. Rather than producing a selection of sliced bread, bakers can ditch the seeded wholemeal and the old-fashioned farmhouse loaf and produce just one type of brown bread and one type of white. This makes production more efficient, and minimizes the time that machinery needs to be cleaned down. There may not be as much choice – but supply would be less likely to run out.Some firms will be faster to adapt than others, depending on their existing setup. In the U.K., for instance, Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc makes more than half of all the fresh food it sells.Production capacity being used to make items where demand has fallen off, say sandwiches for office workers, could be repurposed for other types of food. This won’t be instantaneous. But it is an option if changes to the way people live become more enduring. Online grocery delivery is associated with a click of a mouse or the tap of a smartphone, but it doesn’t have to be like that. There’s nothing to stop supermarkets setting up alternative arrangements. For example, consumers could call a store, an assistant could pick the order from the shelves, and then deliver it to the customer – maybe in partnership with taxi (or car rental) firms that are being hit by a drop in demand.Of course, this all assumes that there are sufficient staff who remain available for work if supermarkets suffer their own absences. But it is plausible that some workers could be retrained to meet the demands of a vastly expanded online grocery industry.While it should be feasible to train drivers from, say hospitality, where they are used to dealing with customers, getting enough refrigerated vans is more of problem. Again, it’s possible that vehicles that usually deliver to the restaurant trade could be used.Some observers have likened the hike in demand to that at the holiday season. But at least retailers can plan ahead for that. This is not about customers slipping an extra treat into the basket; the demand is for lower margin, everyday items in bulk.There are people and physical assets in other industries that have rapidly become under-employed. They could help the retail industry, just as retailers can help themselves by rethinking precisely what they sell and what customers need. The pressure now is on management to be inventive in re-designing their model for a new reality.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Hughes at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
British environment minister George Eustice said on Friday he had been reassured by supermarkets that they had contingency plans in place to prevent food shortages linked to coronavirus. "The retailers reassured me they have well-established contingency plans and are taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need," Eustice said in a statement following a meeting with representatives from the food industry.
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