Nov 29, 2019

Ocado to build robot-powered warehouses in Japan 

Ocado, the UK food delivery service transforming itself into a provider of automated warehouses for retail chains, has struck a deal to build out the online business of Aeon, Japan's largest supermarket operator. In an announcement that propelled its shares 12 per cent higher to £13.54, Hatfield-based Ocado said it will license its so-called smart platform system of automated warehouses and related software to Aeon. Ocado will initially develop warehouses for Aeon in Japan's Kanto region, which includes Tokyo. Typically, Ocado's clients pay for the shell of the building and the delivery vehicles, with Ocado itself financing the robotics and software rollout. Bruno Monteyne, an analyst at Bernstein, said Ocado's contract win in Asia was significant because it showed there was acceptance of the technology even in markets with very different characteristics to the UK, Europe and the US. Japan has a rapidly ageing population, and grocery shopping tends to be done in smaller increments than the average £106 order value in the UK. Yet Japan is also grappling with a labour shortage, which is creating demand for grocery services that are more automated.

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