For an enterprise once described by the former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy as a “charity” because of its run of losses in the noughties, Ocado has emphatically come back with its riposte.
At the close in London last night Ocado’s stock market value had reached £21.7 billion — passing Tesco on £21.1 billion.
To cap that achievement, Britain’s most valuable retailer is also more valuable — in the eyes of investors at least — than the combined valuations of Marks & Spencer, which has a 50 per cent stake in Ocado’s retail business, Wm Morrison and J Sainsbury.
There has long been contention between those who regard Ocado as a technology business and those who believe that it is a food retailer.
In many other areas of its business Ocado has some way to go before matching its rivals. For example, Kantar estimates that the business has a 1.7 per cent share of the food retail market, compared with Tesco’s 26.8 per cent. One person who will be looking to improve Tesco’s share price, and its market value, will be Ken Murphy, who succeeds Dave Lewis as chief executive of the supermarket chain tomorrow.