Ocado said it would pour £700m into new projects for its technology clients in 2021 and warned that it expected to incur “significantly higher” legal costs amid a patent row with rival AutoStore.
The company is building dozens of automated fulfilment centres similar to the three facilities in the UK that handle its own retail joint venture. Two more warehouses for third-party clients will open in the first half of this year.
Full-year group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were £73m, up from £43m a year earlier but £10m below an average of analyst forecasts compiled by the company, partly due to heavy investment.
Group sales rose by a third to £2.3bn.
Underlying profit at Ocado Retail, its ecommerce joint venture with Marks and Spencer, was well ahead of forecast at £148m against £40m a year earlier, as customers turned in large numbers to shopping online for their groceries during the Covid-19 pandemic.