Meanwhile, its systems emphatically failed to cope with lockdown demand. Such was the surge in traffic to the website that Ocado servers thought they were under attack from cyber criminals.
Many customers who were unable to get delivery slots for weeks went to Tesco, Sainsbury’s or Morrisons instead.
Having spent half his life trying to convince anyone who would listen that demand for online grocery delivery would one day explode, having finally arrived, Steiner’s problem is now fulfilling it.
The entrepreneur has also remained steadfast in his belief that the Ocado model is best because it is the most efficient, but it has turned out to be both a strength and a weakness as it is the hardest to quickly scale up. The traditional supermarkets with their old-fashioned, labour-intensive “store-picking” approach have been able to adapt much more quickly. Tesco doubled capacity during lockdown.
For the time being, then, Ocado seems to have won the argument but lost the fight.
Tough Huawei stance is sensible
By the end of this Parliament “the flow of Huawei’s 5G equipment will have stopped”, and with that Oliver Dowden delivered the final, devastating blow to the Chinese telecom giant’s UK ambitions. If only the Culture Secretary had learnt how to pronounce its name by now (for the record, it’s “Wah-Way”).
Still, we already knew the verdict after the resignation of former BP boss Lord John Browne as Huawei’s UK chairman hours before Dowden stood up in the House of Commons, and six months before Browne’s tenure was up.
Browne and the other luminaries such as ex-BT chair Sir Mike Rake and former mandarin Sir Andrew Cahn will wonder how years of fierce lobbying failed so spectacularly, but in the end it came down to geopolitics, not the business case.