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Ocado Retail boss Melanie Smith to leave business next month

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FILE PHOTO: Ocado delivery vans lined up prior to dispatch
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LONDON (Reuters) -Ocado Group, the online supermarket and technology firm, said on Tuesday that Melanie Smith, the CEO of its Ocado Retail joint venture with Marks & Spencer, would 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.

"After three years now is the right time for me to move on to new challenges," said Smith.

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.

Shares in Ocado Group, which last month raised 575 million pounds ($691 million) from investors to help fund the roll-out of its warehouse technology with grocery partners around the world, were down 2% at 1400 GMT, extending 2022 losses to 54.5%.

The group will report first half results on Thursday.

($1 = 0.8324 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Susan Fenton)

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