March 10, 2011, 2:26 PM

FreshDirect nabs a $50 million investment from a U.K. supermarket chain

The online grocer also is looking for a new CEO.

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FreshDirect LLC snagged a $50 million investment from United Kingdom-based supermarket chain Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc, the online grocer announced today. And it’s also on the hunt for a new CEO.

Jason Ackerman, FreshDirect founder and chief financial officer, will take over as interim chief operating officer while a search is conducted to replace Rick Braddock, former chairman and CEO, who has left the company. Board member Jim Manzi was and appointed to assume the responsibilities of chairman.

FreshDirect, No. 70 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, says it will use the additional capital to expand into new markets and its customer offerings. “This new partnership and capital strengthens our ability to support our strong growth and continued expansion,” Ackerman says.

FreshDirect has been planning to expand its online grocery sales to a number of East Coast cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Currently, the retailer operates in New York City and surrounding metropolitan area.

Under the terms of the agreement, Morrison, the U.K.’s fourth-largest food retailer, will acquire a 10% stake in FreshDirect and FreshDirect will receive a minority interest in Morrison’s planned online operation in London. “What we learn from FreshDirect will be invaluable as we plan our own profitable e-commerce business for the U.K,” says Dalton Phillips, CEO of Morrison.

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