Jun 4, 2017

Ocado signs technology licensing deal with retailer

Ocado, the online grocer that is trying to reinvent itself as an automation-focused technology company, has signed a long-awaited licensing deal with an international customer - but it cannot say who, and has yet to commit to putting its equipment in any warehouses. The British internet supermarket, which became profitable only in 2014 after cutting a deal to run Wm Morrison's online grocery business, has long pinned its hopes on selling its proprietary technology to retailers outside the UK. That plan has met with widespread scepticism; Ocado is one of the UK's most shorted stocks, with doubts growing after the company missed a self-imposed deadline to find a second customer by the end of 2015. The unidentified partner will pay Ocado for access to website software and other technology, but has yet to commit to buying the automated mechanical handling equipment that the British company has touted as its most valuable innovation. Morrisons also bought Ocado software to enable it to pick orders off its own shelves using in areas its delivery fleet cannot reach, and agreed to rent extra space in a new Ocado warehouse. Ocado, which was founded by three ex-Goldman Sachs bankers in 2000 to deliver Waitrose groceries to London households, said at the time that it was "Delighted" with the new deal.

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