Ocado has reported annual losses of £214million after a fire burned down one of its hi-tech warehouses in Andover a year ago.

The online supermarket and technology group is about to launch Marks and Spencer’s first grocery home delivery service, meaning shoppers will soon be offered the joint venture between Ocado Group and M&S.

The partnership signals the end of Ocado’s supermarket’s supply contract with upmarket chain Waitrose which will stop in September.

Ocado shares were up 2.1 per cent on Tuesday, despite revealing losses before tax widening to £214.5million in the year to 1 December 2019.

The M&S deal was completed last summer and came as Ocado has transformed itself from a domestic grocery delivery firm to an online retail technology provider, expanding globally to win partnerships with Kroger in the United States, Casino in France and most recently Aeon in Japan.

These deals helped push its shares 31 per cent higher in the last year, giving it an £8.6billion stock market valuation. Ocado shares have more than trebled in value over the past five years.

Ocado reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £43.3million compared to a re-stated £59.5million for 2017 to 2018, according to today’s update.

That outcome, which also reflected accounting changes and the costs of share schemes, was largely in line with analysts’ predictions.

However, the losses and drop in core earnings were despite a 9 per cent increase in group revenue to £1.76billion.

The loss reflected exceptional charges of £94.1million relating to the write-down of the Andover site, where a fire burned for four days and was attended by 300 firefights, before being put out.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown: ‘Ocado has always seen itself as a technology business, but until recently it’s been all about retail.

‘With 50 per cent of the retail business sold to M&S, the spotlight is shifting to the solutions division – where Ocado charges retailers to use its robotic warehouses and smart platform technology.

‘It looks like 2020 could be the year Ocado’s tech vision comes true.

She added that deals done in Asia and Australia and the launch of international customer fulfilment centres has seen it pick up momentum, and ‘Ocado’s automated bots should be busier than ever’.

Questions remain over Ocado’s ambitious valuation, however, said Ms Lund-Yates.

Tim Steiner, chief executive of Ocado, told MailOnline: “We are pleased to report results which show strong momentum in the business.

“Although statutory results reflected a combination of factors, including the impact of the Andover fire, the underlying performance of Ocado Retail and the successful growth of Ocado Solutions were very encouraging.

“The landscape of grocery retailing globally is changing.” We are excited to be able to play a leadership role through Ocado Retail, our joint venture with M&S, and through our Solutions partnerships, as we fulfil our mission of “changing the way the world shops”’.

For the 2019 to 2020 year, Ocado forecast retail revenue growth of 10 to 15 per cent and invoiced international technology fees growth of at least 40 per cent.