Mar 18, 2011
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Ocado poaches Tesco man to speed up non-food drive

Mar 18, 2011

March 17 - British online grocer Ocado has poached Simon Belsham from supermarket giant Tesco to accelerate its expansion in non-food ranges like kitchenware, baby products, health and beauty and toys.


Ocado said on Thursday Belsham, who was multichannel development director at Britain's biggest retailer, would build a team that is expected to bring new products to its website in early 2012.

"Ocado is entering the next exciting stage of its development and part of that involves expanding our range of products significantly in the coming years," chief executive Tim Steiner said.

"Simon will lead the team to develop a compelling non-food offer for Ocado."
Ocado, which moved into pretax profit in the final quarter of last year, sells a small number of non-grocery products, like tableware, magazines, small toys, gifts and fresh flowers.

Non-food products tend to have higher profit margins than groceries, and a key advantage for Ocado over rival online non-food businesses is its ability to deliver goods to customers in one-hour time slots.

However, the group will need to address capacity constraints, which it currently says are holding back growth in its grocery business.

Earlier this month, Ocado reported a 24.7 percent rise in first-quarter gross sales, and said it was on track to increase capacity by about 25-30 percent this year.

Belsham's departure is the latest in a string of management defections from Tesco, which last month lost the head of its online business, Laura Wade-Gery, to Marks & Spencer, just before she was due to start as head of non-food in the UK.

(Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by David Cowell)

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