UK grocer Morrisons is in talks with specialist online food retailer Ocado on a deal that could help the supermarket chain with plans to set up an online service.

Morrisons this morning (14 March) confirmed it is in negotiations to “licence certain of Ocado’s intellectual property and operating knowledge” as it looks to launch an online grocery business in the UK.

Unlike its major rivals, the UK’s fourth-largest retailer does not sell food online but today announced plans to set up the service next year.

Morrisons said a deal with Ocado could form “part of the implementation of the strategy to entering that market”. It added: “Morrisons decision to enter the online grocery market is not dependent on the outcome of these discussions. There is no certainty that an agreement will be reached.” 

Morrisons’ confirmation of the Ocado talks followed an announcement from the online retailer this morning.

Ocado said the negotiations do not involve any talks on Morrisons buying or investing in the business.

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By GlobalData

“Any such agreement would be complementary to Ocado’s existing partnership with Waitrose, which would be unaffected by any potential agreement with Morrisons,” Ocado said. The online retailer supplies Waitrose products under a deal with the upmarket UK retailer.

Ocado added: “Both parties are working towards an agreement and a further announcement will be made in due course. However, discussions are ongoing and there can be no certainty that an agreement will be reached.”

Click here for coverage of Morrisons press conference in the City today.