UK-based online grocer Ocado has seen its annual losses narrow as the retailer, posting its first full-year figures as a listed business, declared its first quarterly profit in the final quarter of 2010.

Ocado said today (1 February) that it made a pre-tax loss of GBP12.2m (US$19.7m) for the 52 weeks to 28 November, including GBP3.5m of costs related to its IPO in July. This compared to a loss of GBP25.5m a year earlier. Sales climbed to GBP515.6m, up from GBP402m.

The retailer highlighted a series of different profit numbers this morning to explain its financial position. Besides its pre-tax loss, the retailer booked a loss attributable to owners of the company of GBP5.3m – down from GBP14.4m last year.

Ocado’s first quarterly profit, made in the fourth quarter, was GBP300,000.

Nevertheless, the retailer said its average order size fell slightly, to GBP114 from GBP115 the previous year. However, its average orders per week were up 31% to 92,916.

Chief executive Tim Steiner said: “This was a landmark year for Ocado with gross sales up 29% for the year; we have delivered on the targets set out at the flotation. We have continued our focus on improving the customer offer, which has led to a record number of customers and sales with the achievement of profitability in the final quarter. Ocado’s growth continues to outpace the market.”

Ocado shares were up 1.4% to 221p at 9:45am GMT today.

Click here to view the full earnings release.