Ocado to spend £5m due to HGV shortage

Ocado is set to spend £5 million in 2021 on mitigating the impacts of the HGV shortage.

The online supermarket has - alongside Tesco, M&S, and Aldi - been offering higher hourly rates and signing bonuses in a bid to attract HGV drivers.

Ocado also estimated that it has lost £35 million in revenue as result of a fire at a customer fulfilment centre in Erith, Southeast London.

The online supermarket said sales fell 10.6 per cent to £517.5 million in the 13 weeks to August 29, which it partially attributed to the overall fall in grocery sales in the UK since the height of the pandemic.

However, Ocado reported that it signed up 64,000 new customers during its most recent quarter, bringing its total customer base to 805,000, while its orders per week rose 22 per cent.

The supermarket also said the average basket size fell 12 per cent year-on-year to £124 for the quarter.

In addition, Ocado unveiled plans to open two warehouses in Luton and Bicester, which it said will enable it to increase its capacity to 700,000 orders per week.

On Friday, the government announced it is to cut down the HGV driver testing process in a bid to tackle the driver shortage, in a move it said would make 50,000 more HGV driving tests available.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps claimed the this would create additional test capacity "very rapidly".

"Despite the challenges we faced in the period, I am delighted to report that Ocado Retail is performing well, improving the customer experience even further and continuing to grow the business in a post-lockdown environment," said Tim Steiner, chairman of Ocado Retail.

"Ocado prides itself on being a more premium grocer - if it can't get enough of the right stock on its virtual shelves, it could reduce revenue, more so than for other supermarkets," said Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

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