Three of Ocado’s international partners have pledged to press ahead with their technology deals, despite the fire that ravaged one of the online grocer’s warehouses.
Canadian grocer Sobeys has insisted it will “forge ahead” with its Ocado partnership – and Retail Week understands that French operator Casino also remains committed to the deal in the wake of the disaster.
The company’s customer fulfilment centre in Andover, the first to feature the latest iteration of its Smart Platform technology, was gutted by a blaze last week.
As previously reported, the fire broke out last Tuesday in an ambient section of the warehouse’s grid. It was initially thought to have been contained by Wednesday morning, but it spread rapidly that day, forcing emergency services to evacuate nearby properties and set up a 500m-wide exclusion zone around the site.
The cause of the fire, which was extinguished at the weekend, remains unknown.
The blaze sparked a sharp decline in Ocado’s share price amid concerns that the international deals it had struck with Sobeys, Casino, US grocery giant Kroger and Swedish retailer ICA could be thrown into doubt.
But a spokeswoman for Sobeys, which penned a partnership with Ocado in January 2018, said: “We were very pleased to hear that no one was injured in Andover and all indications from the Ocado team are that attention has shifted quickly to recovery of their operations.
“Sobeys’ partnership with Ocado continues to forge ahead and we look forward to bringing the world’s most innovative online grocery platform to Canada.”
Retail Week understands that French supermarket chain Casino also remains committed to the deal that it signed in late 2017.
A spokesman for ICA said: ”We are not reconsidering our partnership with Ocado. Ocado is keeping us informed about the investigation of the fire and when they have concluded the results they will share the report, and what actions they might take with ICA.”
Kroger has yet to respond to Retail Week’s request for comment.
Ocado is considering relocating the Andover site, rather than trying to rebuild it. A source close to the business said Ocado was “considering all the options – whether that’s permanent relocation, redeveloping the site or looking for something new”.
The incident has disrupted deliveries to Ocado customers. The warehouse accounts for around 10% – or 30,000 orders per week – of its online grocery business.