Online grocer Ocado is closing in on a deal with an international retailer, it has emerged. The move wil allow the company to expand overseas for the first time.
Earlier in the year, the firm announced it had developed a system that would enable it to sell its technology to other retailers outside the UK. The Telegraph reports that the company is expected to provide an interim report on results this week, but it's unlikely that a deal will be confirmed in that announcement.
This wouldn't be the first time that Ocado has been linked with international retailers. In the past, the company has looked at options with American supermarket Safeway and Carrefour in France.
Founded in 2000, Ocado saw its first pre-tax profit this year after agreeing on a tie-up with Morrisons to run Morrisons.com. Shares in the online expert have gone up by nearly 30 per cent since the end of March and shareholders are reported to be increasingly confident about the firm's financial outlook.
Chief executive Tim Steiner announced in February that Ocado had developed its Smart Platform, which would target international online retail business opportunities.
"We continue to receive interest from a broad group of potential international partners to discuss how we might assist them in introducing or improving online business in their own markets," he explained.
Ocado has also has confirmed that it was engaged in 'detailed discussions' with several parties, and the firm said it wanted to sign its first deal this year.
Analyst for Barclays, James Anstead, said that a deal was 'vital' for Ocado.
"Given the importance of any such agreement, it would have to be announced as soon as possible following its resolution – so we tend to doubt that Ocado would be able to synchronise any deal signature with its results," he commented.
Despite ongoing difficulties in the grocery sector, City experts believe that Ocado will report a rise in sales and profits in its half year results. A consensus forecast predicts that the firm will report a 15 per cent rise in first-half sales and a five per cent rise in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.