Ocado Group has announced that Melanie Smith, the CEO of its Ocado Retail joint venture with Marks & Spencer, is to leave the business at the end of next month.
Smith, who has led the joint venture since its formation in 2019, will be succeeded by Lawrence Hene on an interim basis. He is a previous deputy CEO of Ocado Retail and is a current non-executive director.
A permanent successor will be appointed in due course, added the group.
'The Right Time' To Move
"After three years now is the right time for me to move on to new challenges," said Smith.
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. [...]
"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."
Early Pandemic Winner
Ocado Retail was an early pandemic winner but in May it warned that sales this financial year would grow in the low-single digits rather than the 10% it previously guided, while its core earnings margin would be in the low single digits.
Ocado Group last month raised £575 million (€674.2 million) from investors to help fund the roll-out of its warehouse technology with grocery partners around the world.