INTERNATIONAL - British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is in talks with Ocado to form a joint venture that would give M&S a full online food delivery service for the first time, sending shares in both groups jumping on Tuesday.
Britain’s best known store chain and the online supermarket pioneer released short statements saying there was no guarantee a deal would emerge, after London’s Evening Standard newspaper said M&S was set to pay up to 900 million pounds ($1.2 billion) for a 50 percent stake in a combined retail business.
The 135-year-old M&S is a mainstay of Britain’s shopping streets, but has been struggling to cope in recent years with the rise of fast fashion, discounters and online shopping.
The firm currently sells wine, flowers and clothes online, but does not offer a full delivery service for its upmarket foods, putting it at a disadvantage to rivals such as the John Lewis-owned Waitrose and Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco.
Ocado, founded by three Goldman Sachs bankers 18 years ago, has been transformed in the last year after it struck major deals to sell its technology to international retailers such as US group Kroger Co and France’s Casino.