Ocado is suing its co-founder Jonathan Faiman while his new company, Today Development Partners (TDP), issues a counterclaim worth “hundreds of millions” amid an escalating legal battle.
Accusations of corporate espionage and conspiracy have been leveled in a bitter legal dispute involving Ocado’s chief executive Tim Steiner and Marks & Spencer’s chief executive Steve Rowe, according to an explosive report by The Times.
Ocado’s co-founder Faiman left the online grocer, which provides delivery services to third party retailers, in 2010 to set up his own rival to Ocado, TDP.
According to Ocado, Faiman illegally obtained confidential documents in order to set up his new venture and secure delivery deals with both M&S and Waitrose.
In May TDP partnered with Waitrose in order to develop three automated customer fulfilment centres and install a number of high-tech solutions into its supply chain, aimed at growing Waitrose online operation into a £1 billion business.
Earlier this month it was reported that the deal, penned just three months after Waitrose had ended a similar deal with its rival Ocado, was abruptly scrapped with little explanation.
Ocado claimed TDP used these confidential documents, obtained when it hired senior and long-serving Ocado employee Jon Hillary, to form the basis of its agreement with Waitrose.
Meanwhile TDP is counter-suing Ocado, claiming that is responsible for the abrupt loss of its contract with Waitrose by conspiring to “damage, disrupt and stifle” it, while obtaining a search order to raid Faiman’s office and hotel room.
In February, just after Ocado and Waitrose own delivery deal had come to an end, Ocado announced a new deal with M&S to launch an online food delivery service.
Hillary has been accused of providing Faiman with a “backpack” of confidential information including an advanced draft of Ocado’s new deal with M&S and financial information which was “not widely known”.
Faiman has also accused Steiner of threatening HSBC to withdraw both Ocado’s and his private account unless the bank stopped working with his rival TDP.