Ocado Group plc – Annual report – 29 November 2020
Industry: retail; distribution
Accounting policies (extract)
1.4 Significant accounting policies and critical estimates, judgements and assumptions
The preparation of the Group’s financial statements requires the use of certain judgements, estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, income and expenses. Estimates and judgements are evaluated continually, and are based on historical experience and other factors, including expectations of future events that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances.
Key estimation uncertainties are the key assumptions concerning the future and other key sources of estimation uncertainty at the reporting date that may have a significant risk of causing a material adjustment to the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities within the next period. Significant judgements are those that the Group has made in the process of applying the Group’s accounting policies and that have the most significant effect on the amounts recognised in the financial statements.
Changes in accounting estimates may be necessary if there are changes in the circumstances on which the estimates were based, or as a result of new information or more experience.
Significant accounting policies, key estimation uncertainties and significant judgements are provided below:
Other estimates, assumptions and judgements are applied by the Group. These include, but are not limited to, those relating to identifying exceptional items, recognising deferred tax assets for historical losses, calculating impairment charges on intangible assets and plant, property and equipment, and calculating the fair values of equity instruments granted. These estimates, assumptions and judgements are also evaluated on an ongoing basis but are not deemed significant.
Section 2 – Results for the period (extract)
Revenue represents the transaction prices to which the Group expects to be entitled in return for delivering goods or services to its customers. The amount recognised in any period is based on a judgement of when the customer is able to benefit from the goods or services provided, and an assessment of the progress made towards completely satisfying each performance obligation. The following provides information about the nature and timing of the satisfaction of performance obligations in contracts and the related revenue recognition policies, categorised by reportable segments. For information about reportable segments, see note 2.2.
Identification of performance obligations
In a typical Retail contract there is one performance obligation, which is to deliver goods ordered online to the customer at the scheduled time and to the agreed address. Ocado Smart Pass, the Group’s discounted pre-pay membership scheme, is a separate contract with a customer and has a separate single performance obligation which is to provide delivery services for an agreed period of time. The Group applies the practical expedient allowed under IFRS 15 “Revenue from Contracts with Customers” to apply the standard requirements to a portfolio of contracts, rather than individual contracts, as it believes the characteristics of each sale are similar, and that doing so does not materially affect the financial statements.
Determining transaction prices
Customers pay in full at the point of sale. The transaction price is based on the aggregation of all order values, shown net of any material adjustment for expected returns or expected future redemption of marketing vouchers in accordance with guidance on variable consideration in IFRS 15. Standard delivery charges and carrier bag receipts are included in transaction prices. Smart Pass transaction prices are the contracted values of the memberships for the agreed periods of delivery services.
Allocation of transaction prices to performance obligations
Each contract has a single performance obligation and so the whole transaction price is assigned to that single obligation. At the end of each reporting period, Management reviews and adjusts for elements of variable consideration such as expected refunds or expected voucher redemptions.
Revenue from online grocery orders is recognised at a point in time when the customer obtains control of the goods, which for deliveries performed by the Group usually occurs when the goods are delivered to and have been accepted at the customer’s home. For goods which are delivered by third-party couriers, revenue is recognised when the items have been transferred to the third party for onward delivery to the customer. These are shown net of returns, relevant marketing vouchers and offers and value added taxes. Relevant vouchers and offers include money-off coupons, conditional-spend vouchers and offers such as buy three for the price of two. Revenue from Ocado Smart Pass is recognised over the duration of the membership on a time-elapsed, straight-line basis.
UK Solutions & Logistics and International Solutions segments
Identification of performance obligations
Solutions contracts are allocated to one of the two Solutions segments based on geography. The approach taken to evaluate the accounting treatment of a contract is the same for both segments, with each contract being considered on a case-by-case basis. A typical Ocado Solutions contract has a single performance obligation: “to enable the client to access the OSP end-to-end online grocery platform from the go-live date, with an agreed physical capacity, from a CFC for example, for the use of its retail brands”. The ability to derive independent benefit is a key determinant. For example, there are several critical contractual milestones which occur before the service is operational, such as the design of the CFC for the customer or preparation of the OSP. However, Management has concluded that the customer is not able to derive any benefit from these individual elements until the service is operational and they are able to fulfil an order. Depending on the individual customer, fulfilment of an order may include the delivery of goods to the final consumer, and this would make up part of the obligation.
Consequently, designing the CFC or building the customer OSP is not a separate performance obligation and no revenue can be assigned to satisfying these aspects of the contract. Some contracts, however, have multiple components, for example, the addition of Store Pick services or additional CFCs, which lead to additional distinct performance obligations. In these situations, Management uses its judgement to determine whether there are separable performance obligations from which the customer is able to benefit independently.
Determining transaction prices
At the inception of a contract, the total transaction price is estimated, being the amount to which the Group expects to be entitled over the expected duration of the contract, based on the rights it has under the present contract. Such expected amounts are only included to the extent that it is highly probable that no revenue reversal will occur.
In order to arrive at the transaction price, Management is initially required to make a judgement about the duration of the contract. The majority of Solutions contracts do not have a fixed term, but run for an indefinite period until cancelled. For the purposes of applying IFRS 15, and in particular making the disclosures in respect of unsatisfied performance obligations, Management determines the duration of a contract, having considered the type of contract, performance against contractual service-level agreements (“SLAs”) and termination provisions. The point at which any termination penalties payable by the customer would no longer be considered “substantive” is particularly relevant. This key judgement on contract duration defines the period for which unsatisfied and partially unsatisfied performance obligations are measured and disclosed when calculating the transaction price.
Typically, Solutions contracts include both up-front fees, paid by the customer in the period prior to the solution going live, and subsequent annual amounts that are either recurring or variable. The up-front fees are one-off payments and are included in the transaction price and recognised over the expected customer life. Expected customer life is a key judgement as it affects the amount of deferred up-front fees that are released as revenue each period, and the factors considered in reaching the judgement on expected customer life include the nature of the performance obligation, the scale of current and future planned investment, performance against contractual SLAs, the evolving technology and competitive landscape. The judgements made for contract duration may be different to those judgements for expected customer life.
A Solutions contract often includes recurring fees which are due on an annual basis throughout the contract, are recognised over the duration of the contract and are included in the estimate of the total transaction price.
Variable amounts are annual fees whereby typically the variability relates to the volume of sales transactions processed or variable costs associated with providing the service to the customer. It has been determined that these variable amounts should be recognised in the period in which they arise, because they relate to the services provided in that period. In determining the total transaction price for disclosure the amount of future variable consideration has been estimated for the contract duration described above.
IFRS 15 requires estimates of future variable consideration to be conservative and “highly probable” to become due. In respect of agreements that are already operating, constrained estimates have been reached by assuming 90.0% of the committed capacity only. This estimate excludes potential benefits from both indexation and future revenue growth from capacity improvements and the continued channel shift to online in the industry. It also considers potential risks from new entrants to the online fulfilment market as it continues to grow and the competitive nature of the grocery market itself which could have an adverse effect on volumes.
Although for most Solutions contracts there is the possibility that the customer will add capacity in the form of additional modules in existing CFCs or additional CFCs in new locations, which would lead to increased revenue, this has been excluded from the calculation of the estimated transaction price.
Taken together, it is considered that the above approach represents a suitably conservative view of future estimated revenue in the disclosures of unsatisfied obligations as required by IFRS 15.
For each Solutions contract an assessment has been made by the Group as to whether there is a significant finance benefit arising from the timing of payments required from the customer. Judgement is required to choose an appropriate interest rate used in the assessment and to set a reasonable threshold for determining whether any finance benefit is significant.
Allocation of transaction prices to performance obligations
Single component contracts have a single performance obligation and the whole transaction price is assigned to that single deliverable. Multiple component contracts will have more than one obligation, each with its own contract duration as adjudged by Management. Each contract clearly states the fees relating to each component. This provides Management with a basis for allocation of the calculated transaction price to the performance obligations as required by IFRS 15 in proportion to their relative revenue value in the contract.
For each performance obligation and its allocated transaction price, revenue is recognised from the point at which the customer starts to benefit from the services, and over the period the services are provided. The nature of the services provided, that is the ability to fulfil online grocery orders, represents equal value to the customer every day that the service is provided. This uniformity of value to the customer over time has led the Group to decide that the most appropriate way of measuring the satisfaction of obligations is by using a straight-line, time-elapsed basis. IFRS 15 defines this as an “output method” which recognises revenue by reference to the value to the customer.
Judgement is applied in relation to contract and customer lives, as typically contracts have no end date. Depending on the expected customer life, the amount and timing of revenue recognised may be different in different accounting periods. International CFCs are still a relatively new aspect of the business and consequently the Directors have limited relevant historical information on which to base their assumptions on expected customer life. Therefore, in making their judgements, the Directors have considered qualitative and quantitative reasonable and supportable information such as market evidence and certain clauses contained within Solutions contracts.
The Group’s contracts may be amended for changes to specifications and requirements. Contract modifications exist when the amendment creates new, or changes existing, enforceable rights and obligations. The effect of a contract modification on the transaction price and the Group’s measure
of progress for the performance obligation to which it relates, is recognised as an adjustment to revenue in one of the following ways:
a. Prospectively as an additional separate contract;
b. Prospectively as a termination of the existing contract and creation of a new contract;
c. As part of the original contract using a cumulative catch-up; or
d. As a combination of b and c.
For contracts for which the Group has decided there is a series of distinct goods and services that are substantially the same and have the same pattern of transfer where revenue is recognised over time, the modification will always be treated under a or b.
The facts and circumstances of any contract modification are considered individually as the types of modifications vary contract by contract and may result in different accounting outcomes.
Judgement is applied in relation to the accounting for such modifications where the final terms or legal contracts have not been agreed prior to the reporting date, since Management needs to determine if a modification has been approved, and if so, whether it creates new, or changes existing, enforceable rights and obligations of the parties. Depending upon the outcome of such negotiations, the timing and amount of revenue recognised may be different in different accounting periods. Modification and amendments to contracts are undertaken via an agreed formal process. For example, if a change in scope has been approved but the corresponding change in price is still being negotiated, Management uses its judgement to estimate the change to the total transaction price. Importantly, any variable consideration is only recognised to the extent that it is highly probable that no revenue reversal will occur.
Contract-related assets and liabilities
As a result of the contracts into which the Group enters with its customers, a number of different assets and liabilities are recognised on the Consolidated Balance Sheet. These include but are not limited to:
- Intangible assets;
- Property, plant and equipment;
- Contract assets;
- Contract liabilities; and
- Costs to obtain contracts.
Contract assets and liabilities
The Group’s contracts with customers include a diverse range of payment schedules, depending upon the nature and type of goods and services being provided. The Group often agrees payment schedules at the inception of long-term contracts under which it receives payments throughout the terms of the contracts. These payment schedules may include performance-based payments or progress payments as well as regular monthly or quarterly payments for ongoing service delivery. Payments for transactional goods and services may be made at the delivery dates, in arrears or through part-payments in advance. Where cumulative payments made (or when the Group has an unconditional right to payment) at the reporting date are greater than the cumulative revenues recognised, the Group recognises the differences as contract liabilities. Where cumulative payments made at the reporting date are less than the cumulative revenues recognised, and the Group has an unconditional right to payment, the Group recognises the differences as contract assets or accrued income.
Costs to obtain contracts
These are costs that are incurred to obtain a contract with a customer that would not have been incurred if the contract had not been obtained. Costs to obtain a contract that would have been incurred regardless of whether the contract was obtained or not shall be recognised as an expense when incurred, unless those costs are explicitly chargeable to the customer regardless of whether the contract is obtained.
The incremental costs of obtaining a contract with a customer are recognised as an asset if they are expected to be recoverable.
Utilisation, derecognition and impairment of costs to obtain contracts
Incremental costs to obtain a contract are amortised on a straight-line basis over the estimated duration of the contract life, beginning on the date the customer begins to benefit from the goods or services the Group agreed to provide.
Incremental costs to obtain a contract are derecognised either when they are disposed of or when no further economic benefits are expected to flow from their use or disposal.
Management is required to determine the recoverability of contract-related assets within property, plant and equipment, intangible assets, capitalised costs to obtain contracts, accrued income and trade receivables. At each reporting date, the Group determines whether or not the capitalised costs to obtain contracts are impaired by comparing the carrying amounts of the assets with the remaining amounts of consideration that the Group expects to receive, less the costs that relate to providing services under the relevant contracts. In determining the estimated amount of consideration to be received, the Group uses the same principles as it does to determine the contract transaction price, except that any constraints used to reduce the transaction price will be removed for the impairment test.
Disaggregation of revenue
Set out below is a disaggregation of the Group’s revenue:
(1) The figures for the 52 weeks ended 1 December 2019 have been re-presented to reflect changes to the basis of allocating revenue to segments. The total revenue is the same, but the figure attributed to each segment has changed.
The contract assets represent Solutions revenue recognised in the Consolidated Income Statement, but not yet invoiced.
Significant changes in the contract assets balance during the period are as follows:
The contract liabilities relate primarily to consideration received from Solutions customers in advance, for which revenue is recognised as the performance obligation is satisfied.
Significant changes in the contract liabilities balance during the period are as follows:
Set out below is the amount of revenue recognised from:
The transaction price allocated to the performance obligations that are unsatisfied (or partially unsatisfied) are expected to be recognised as revenue as follows:
The total transaction price includes £2,154.5 million (2019: £1,824.0 million) in respect of potential revenue in relation to the recovery of costs that are expected to be incurred in existing Solutions contracts.
The amounts disclosed above in respect of unsatisfied and partially unsatisfied performance obligations do not include estimates of any amounts that will arise if the customer continues to receive services beyond the estimated contract term. In addition, they are reduced, during the contract term, so as to limit the estimate of future variable amounts to a conservative amount that is “highly probable”. The figures disclosed do not include any incremental amounts in relation to CFCs and other solutions to which a customer is not yet committed. However, they do include any amounts that are payable by the customer irrespective of whether an option for future CFCs and other solutions is exercised (i.e. amounts that are equivalent to a non-refundable deposit).
Costs to obtain contracts
Significant changes in the costs to obtain contracts balance during the period are as follows:
Management expects the incremental costs of obtaining contracts (i.e. sales bonuses) to be recovered. The Group, therefore, capitalises them as costs to obtain contracts.
These capitalised costs will be amortised over the period of transferring goods or services to the customer.