Marc Bolland, now helming Mars & Spencer, turned away from online during his spell as CEO of supermarket group Morrisons (he probably noticed that only Tesco out of his rivals made money out of it) but his succesor Dalton Philips is having none of that.
He’s just splashed out £70m to buy children’s clothes website Kiddicare, killing two birds with one stone (if one can say that in such a context) by acquiring a (presumably) viable kids’ clothes business and an online platform for other Morrisons products.
The big question for Philips is should he move into online food retailing and, if so, how?
This may seem a daft question as food is 90 per cent of what Morrisons does. But Philips has said he wants to expand its non-food offer and is talking to veteran retail entrepreneur George Davies about a clothing range.
The trouble with online food is the expense and general hassle of all those vans you need to deliver the stuff. Maybe Philips, if he’s got £70m to spend on Kiddicare, can find the £1.4bn or so it would cost to buy Ocado.
Ocado shares plunged yesterday after John Lewis Partnership, owner of Ocado’s main (really only) customer Waitrose sold its 10.4 per cent stake in the company. Nervous shareholders would welcome a bid.