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A closer look at Kroger’s Ocado partnership

Photo courtesy of Kroger Co.

When it comes to its future-forward strategy, one of Cincinnati-based Kroger’s BB #:100073 highest profile alliances is with United Kingdom-based Ocado, to bring its stores and supply chain past the twenty-first century to deliver best-in-class service to its customers.

The first phase of the plan involves building 20 automated customer fulfillment centers across the United States to modernize and streamline operations.

Ocado, a technology company, was founded in 2000 and began trading on the London Stock Exchange in 2010. Its two main divisions are Ocado Retail Ltd. and Ocado Solutions.

Ocado Retail, a joint venture between Marks & Spencer Group and Ocado Group, operates the company’s ecommerce activities in groceries and general merchandise.

It oversees Ocado.com, billed as the world’s largest dedicated online supermarket, with a 15 percent share of the United Kingdom’s online grocery market. The division also is home to the online pet store Fetch, and the new one-hour grocery service, Ocado Zoom.

The Ocado Solutions division offers its proprietary technology to other retailers around the world. In addition to Kroger, it counts Sobeys, BB #:116615 the big Canadian retailer, as a partner.

Ocado Solutions is building customer fulfillment centers for Sobeys, mirroring its U.S. aspirations with Kroger. Sobeys also uses the Ocado Smart Platform to power its online shopping activities.

Ocado also has a presence in vertical farming, which it recently strengthened by forming a three-way joint venture with 80 Acres Farms and Priva Holding BV, calling the new entity Infinite Acres.

Ocado also recently bought a 58-percent stake in Jones Food Company, Europe’s largest vertical farm. Another notable partnership is with Karakuri, a robotics startup that automates the assembly of ready-to-eat meals.

Early last year, Ocado announced it would open a new North American office for Ocado Solutions in the Washington, DC area.

This is a multi-part feature adapted from the cover story of the March/April 2020 issue of Produce Blueprints.