Ocado Group shares soared in London after the group named former Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose to lead its board of directors.
The online grocery group said Rose will replace the outgoing Michael Grade at the annual shareholders' meeting in May of this year. Until that time, the company said in a statement published on its website Rose will cast as an independent non-executive director and chairman-designate.
"Sir Stuart is joining Ocado as we enter a hugely exciting period, with a near doubling of our capacity. We are looking forward to benefiting from his extensive retail experience and counsel," said CEO Tim Steiner in the statement. "Lord Grade has been a great asset to the Company during his tenure as Chairman of the Board and personally a great support to me. We are grateful to him for his guidance, insight and expertise over the years and wish him well in his retirement."
Ocado shares surged more than 5 percent in early London trading following news of the appointment to change hands at 100.7 pence each. The shares have risen 17.6 percent over the past year but are still well below the 180 pence price at which the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2010.
Ocado reported a 14 percent rise in volumes for the six weeks ending on 6 January last week taking sales to just over £91m and said it had added new customers in critical markets in the outer London suburbs and the Southeast of England.
Shoppers will spend £87bn online in 2013, according to a forecast in December's IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, a 12 percent increase on the year before and a stark warning to high street retailers that they must adapt their businesses to changing consumer habits or risk being the next name to go under.
Online grocery sales alone surged past £5bn last year and have grown by 90 percent since 2008, according to the research group Kantar Worldpanel.
Rose, 63, ran Marks & Spencer from 2004 until 2010, during which time he famously fended off a £9.1bn approach by billionaire clothier Philip Green. Rose a retail industry veteran who began his career with M&S in 1971 before working for Debenhams and eventually running the Green-owned Arcadia Group, has recently been advising the private equity group Bridgepoint Capital and had been reportedly linked to a senior role at Formula One.