Ocado CEO to step down In August

Ocado Retail has just announced that after three years as Chief Executive of Ocado Retail, Melanie Smith CBE will be leaving the business on 31 August 2022.

Mel has been instrumental in the formation of the joint venture, since it was established in August 2019, bringing together the strength of M&S's brand and its leading food quality, with Ocado's proprietary technology and award- winning customer service.

As part of the transition process, Mel will be handing over to Lawrence Hene, on an interim basis, who previously was Deputy CEO at Ocado Retail, and since the creation of the 50-50 joint venture between Ocado Group and M&S in 2019, has remained on its Board as a Non-Executive Director. A permanent successor will be appointed in due course.

Mel commented, 'It has been a privilege to lead the Ocado Retail team over the last three years. In this period, we have successfully established the joint venture as the UK's best online grocer with outstanding service, introduced M&S Food to online consumers for the first time, and played our part in feeding the nation through the Covid pandemic.

'After three years now is the right time for me to move on to new challenges and I leave behind a strong business, full of energetic, amazing colleagues that have achieved so many great things and I know will take the business onwards to achieve many more.

'My heartfelt thanks go to every single person at Ocado Retail for their brilliance, dedication, and tremendous support. Thank you to you all.'

Tim Steiner, Chairman of Ocado Retail, commented, 'The last two years have been extremely challenging with a pandemic to contend with affecting the grocery market in ways that we could never have predicted.

'Mel has steered this business through with incredible energy and I would like to thank her for all she has done. There is no question that Mel leaves the business well prepared for faster growth in the years to come. We wish her well in her future endeavours.'

Tim continued, 'We are pleased to confirm that Lawrence Hene will take the role of interim CEO, and I know he will bring his extensive knowledge of Ocado Retail and provide the leadership required in these turbulent market conditions.

'We will now commence the search for a permanent new CEO to take Ocado Retail through the next steps of our growth as a critical part of the strategy for both Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer.”

Stuart Machin, CEO of Marks & Spencer, said, “Mel has been fundamental in establishing our joint venture and the successful switchover to M&S supply. I am grateful for the contribution she has made in this early phase.

'Whilst today’s market conditions are tough for everyone, we believe in the long-term opportunity of our partnership and the substantial further potential in the joint venture.”