Marks and Spencer has held talks with online retailer Ocado in an apparent bid to reverse its fortunes by starting grocery deliveries.
The struggling retailer has cancelled expansion plans and is closing at least 100 stores as part of its latest plan to halt a decline in revenue, but until now it has been notably absent from the food delivery market, despite trialling a service in London and Reading in the autumn of 2017.
A partnership with Ocado, first reported by The Mail on Sunday, could spell the end for the online supermarket’s long-running deal with Waitrose, whose products account for most of the online retailer’s range. The current contract between the two companies is due to expire in September 2020.
Ocado currently has delivery contracts with five other supermarkets in various countries, including Morrisons in the UK, Kroger in the US, Groupe Casino in France, Sobeys in Canada and ICA in Sweden.
It is expected that Ocado and Waitrose will break tries after 20 years following a reportedly difficult relationship, with Waitrose’s owner, the John Lewis Partnership, no longer having any ownership of Ocado.
The tie-up with M&S would put the premium retailer in direct competition with Waitrose’s delivery service, which also caters for customers in the premium segment of British retail.
Waitrose customers would not lose access to deliveries if the supermarket chain splits from Ocado, however, since it also runs a Waitrose.com delivery service.