UK online retailer Ocado has again insisted any deal it could strike with Morrisons would not affect its relationship with upmarket grocer Waitrose.
Ocado and Morrisons are in talks over a possible licencing deal but Waitrose, which has worked with the online specialist since 2000, has expressed concern about a possible tie-up between the two companies.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Waitrose MD Mark Price said the company would consult its lawyers should Ocado sign a deal with Morrisons. Waitrose and Ocado have a distribution and own-label agreement that runs until 2020.
When contacted by just-food today (13 May), a spokesperson for Ocado refused to be drawn on Price’s comments. Instead, the spokesperson referred to Ocado’s statement before its AGM on Friday, which included comments on its talks with Morrisons.
“Any such agreement would be complementary to Ocado’s existing partnership with Waitrose, which would be unaffected by any potential agreement with Morrison – product would continue to be sourced with Waitrose, and Ocado customers would continue to buy exclusively from the existing Ocado, Waitrose and branded ranges,” the statement read.
It added: “Ocado reconfirms that the arrangements under discussion do not involve Morrison acquiring either the whole of, or an equity stake in, Ocado. Discussions are ongoing, and there can be no certainty that an agreement will be reached. A further announcement on this topic will be made in due course.”
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Morrisons declined to comment on Price’s quoted remarks but confirmed talks were ongoing.