Ocado board survives protest vote on pay

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Online retailer Ocado suffered a protest vote over boardroom pay yesterday as it announced a strong start to the year and provided further details of a possible tie-up with supermarket chain Morrisons.

More than 23 per cent of votes cast at the AGM opposed the firm’s remuneration report after the Association of British Insurers called for more transparency on its pay policy. The media were controversially barred from attending the agm.

But the shares soared to their highest level since early 2011, with even the most sceptical of analysts revising their valuation of the stock.

Despite increased competition from the major supermarket players, Ocado reported increasing spend from customers.

It also reassured investors over the progress of talks with Morrisons after the pair announced last month they were considering a deal to use its expertise to help the supermarket set up an online business in the UK.

Ocado currently delivers only products from Waitrose, its own lines and branded ranges and said this arrangement would be unaffected by any agreement with Morrisons. It said discussions did not involve Morrisons buying all or part of the company.

In a statement to shareholders at the firm’s annual general meeting, it said it had “continued to make significant progress” as the chairmanship passed from Lord Grade to former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose.

It added: “The company is well-placed to exploit the fast growth in online grocery retailing.” Shares closed up 16.2p at 224.8p.