OCADO’S retail business saw sales accelerate in the third quarter as weekly customer orders continued to rise.

The results were the first for Ocado Retail, the online grocer's retail arm created as part of its £750 million joint venture with Marks & Spencer. M&S products will be available through Ocado from September 2020 at the latest.

Weekly orders through Ocado rose 12.1% as it was buoyed by increased delivery slots during the period to September 1.

Melanie Smith, M&S's former strategy director who took the reins at the joint venture last month, said the results highlighted Ocado's "resilience" following the fire at its Andover facility.

Ocado posted a £142.8 million loss in the half-year to June after it was weighed down by the impact of the fire at the Hampshire site.

But the company said revenues continued to be strong in the latest quarter, rising 11.4% and putting the company in line with its guidance for the rest of the year.

It represents an acceleration after the company posted 9.7% revenue growth in the first half of the year.

Ocado said that this revenue growth was enabled after it created additional capacity at its Erith distribution centre.

Revenues also continued to surge despite a slight decline in the size of orders, which dipped 0.8%, as customers shopped more regularly.

The company has seen its shares continue to jump in 2019, rising more than 70% since the start of the year as it was buoyed by international deals as well as the collaboration with M&S.

Fashion retailer French Connection has seen pre-tax losses narrow to £4.7m for the six months to July 31, against losses of £15.1m a year ago, after returning to sales growth.

The chain reported a 1.4% rise in like-for-like sales across the UK and Europe - a marked improvement on the 7% drop posted a year earlier.

But group revenues fell 12.2% to £51m- or 14% lower with currency movements stripped out - as it continued to trim its store estate.

Stephen Marks, chairman and chief executive of French Connection, said: "I am pleased that the changes we have made to the business over the last few years continue to move us forward.”

Shares in French Connection tumbled as much as 15% after the results.

Staffline has seen shares plummet after its second profit warning in four months as it swung to a first half loss following a slowdown in new contracts.

Shares in the firm tumbled as much as 25% after it said it now expects annual underlying earnings of around £20 million.

It comes after a profit alert in May saw the company trim annual earning expectations to between £23 million and £28 million.

Staffline slumped to a pre-tax loss of £7.7 million for the six months to June 30 against profits of £10.5 million a year earlier.

It bemoaned "unforeseen challenges" in the first half, as well as uncertainty caused by Brexit.

The firm said the pay scandal and delay to its 2018 full-year results had caused a slowdown in new contract work, with the affair having "impacted the perceptions" of the group.