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M&S strategy director to lead Ocado Retail following deal completion

Ocado has completed the 50% sale of its Ocado Retail business to Marks and Spencer and has announced the appointment of Melanie Smith to lead the joint venture.

Smith, currently the strategy director at Marks and Spencer, will become the CEO of Ocado Retail Limited and will be joined by Lawrence Hene, currently the interim managing director of Ocado Retail, as deputy CEO for a “transitional period” before he moves back into a senior role within the Ocado group.

Ocado also announced the other directors will be Tim Steiner and Duncan Tatton-Brown, respectively CEO and CFO of Ocado, and Steve Rowe and Stuart Machin, respectively CEO and food managing director of M&S. Steiner will also be chair of the board of Ocado Retail Limited.

The venture will see Marks and Spencer establish an online service for the first time adding its 6,500 products to Ocado.com. However due to its current deal with waitrose, it will not sell M&S products until 1 September 2020, unless Ocado Retail’s current arrangements with Waitrose terminate sooner.

Steiner said: “Ocado Retail’s future, as part of a joint venture with M&S, is full of opportunity. The new company will be able to offer customers even greater range, service, quality and value. Our collaboration will also allow us to grow the business faster, add more jobs, and create more value for all our stakeholders. We are very excited to be working together.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lawrence for his incredible achievements with ocado.com since 2011, which he has been instrumental in growing to the business it is today and I look forward to continuing to work with him, both during his transitional role at Ocado Retail Limited and when he moves back to the Ocado Group. I am very excited about Ocado Retail Limited continuing to realise its fullest potential under Melanie’s leadership.”

Rowe added: “I have always believed that M&S Food could and should be online. The addition of Ocado to our family of businesses marks M&S’s first truly transformational step in shaping our future as a digital first retailer, as we combine the magic of M&S food with Ocado’s award-winning service to create a new and compelling proposition.

“Through its unique OSP technology, Ocado has developed the most cost advantaged model in online grocery retail and our new partnership unlocks growth for M&S Food through an immediately profitable, scalable presence in the UK’s fastest growing grocery sales channel.

“I am absolutely delighted that our JV will be led by Melanie. She is a real talent; who combines extensive retail knowledge, strategic vision and a focus on delivery.”

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