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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ocado Group plc
Public limited company
Traded asLSEOCDO
IndustryInternet retail
FoundedApril 2000; 20 years ago (2000-04)[1]
FounderJonathan Faiman
Jason Gissing
Tim Steiner
Headquarters,
England, UK
Area served
England and Wales
Key people
Lord Rose
(Chairman)
Tim Steiner
(CEO)
ServicesGroceries, consumer goods
Revenue£1,756.6 million (2019)[2]
£(92.8) million (2019)[2]
£(211.8) million (2019)[2]
Websitewww.ocadogroup.com

Ocado is a British online supermarket[3] that describes itself as 'the world's largest dedicated online grocery retailer'.[4] In contrast to its main competitors, the company has no chain of stores and does all home deliveries from its warehouses. The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange on 21 July 2010, and is a member of the FTSE 100 Index.

History

An Ocado van parked on a busy road in Central London
An Ocado van parked on a busy road in Central London

Ocado was founded in April 2000 as L.M. Solutions by Jonathan Faiman, Jason Gissing and Tim Steiner, former merchant bankers with Goldman Sachs.[5] In October 2000, Ocado partnered with Waitrose.[5] In June 2001, the company changed its name to Ocado Limited.[5] In 2002, the company started its commercial delivery service.[6]

In September 2006, Michael Grade became non-executive chairman of Ocado, shortly after Goldman Sachs were appointed as financial advisers, fuelling speculation which had already started about a listing for the company.[7] In November 2008, the John Lewis Partnership transferred its shareholding of 29% into its staff pension fund.[8] In May 2010, the John Lewis Partnership entered into a 10-year branding and supply agreement with Ocado.[9] In February 2011, the John Lewis pension fund sold off its entire Ocado shareholding.[10]

On 13 July 2009, Ocado released its first app for the iPhone. The app, called 'Ocado on the Go', allowed users to do their grocery shopping without a computer.[11] On 19 April 2010, the company extended the app to Android devices.[12] In 2015, Ocado launched the first grocery app for the Apple Watch.[13]

In July 2010, Ocado undertook an initial public offering.[14]

In 2015, Ocado launched the Ocado Smart Platform, its own software for operating retail businesses online.[15]

In August 2017, Ocado launched an app for Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, that allowed users to add products to an existing Ocado order or basket via voice command. The company stated it was the first UK supermarket to launch an app for Alexa.[16][17]

In November 2017, Ocado's shares rose by 20% following the fulfillment of an Ocado Smart Platform deal with the French Casino Group.[18]

In January 2018, Ocado completed negotiations for an Ocado Smart Platform deal with the Canadian supermarket chain Sobeys, owned by Empire Company. Michael Medline, CEO of Empire and Sobeys, said its e-commerce business, including robotics system for home deliveries, would start in approximately two years.[19][20][21]

In May 2018, Ocado signed an Ocado Smart Platform deal with Kroger, the US retail company, to build up to 20 Customer Fulfillment Centres (CFCs) using Ocado's automated technologies.[22] As of November 2019, five locations had been identified for the new CFCs, and two were under construction.[23]

On 5 February 2019, Ocado's customer fulfilment centre (CFC) in Andover, Hampshire, which handles 10 per cent of its fulfilments, caught fire. The fire continued to burn the following day, engaging more than 25 fire engines and 300 firefighters from multiple fire services. A 500-metre exclusion zone was set up and residents as far as 1.6 km away were evacuated as a precaution. The fire burned for more than 3 days, with the roof collapsing in the process.[24][25][26][27]

On 27 February 2019, Ocado and Marks and Spencer announced a Joint Venture, whereby M&S acquired a 50% share in Ocado's UK retail business.[28]

On 4 June 2019, Computerworld UK reported Ocado's intent to use robotic packers to handle its stock, utilizing technology developed in collaboration with SOMA, the Soft Manipulation consortium.[29]

In March 2020, Ocado warned of delays as customers were buying particularly large orders amid reports of panic-buying across the UK over fears of the coronavirus pandemic.[30] On 18 March, Ocado announced that it was suspending its service, citing higher demand for deliveries than it was able to meet.[31] On 29 March, the company said that they had spent £1.5 million on ordering 100,000 COVID-19 testing kits for its staff, with an aim to keep grocery supplies flowing. This was intended to protect both their staff and the UK public, but the company promised to hand them over to the NHS if required.[32]

British supermarkets

Ocado's warehouse in Hatfield
Ocado's warehouse in Hatfield

Ocado's products include own brand groceries from the Marks and Spencer supermarket chain as well as their own Ocado brand, but also a selection of name brand groceries and other items, including flowers, toys and magazines.[33] Until September 2020, Ocado sold Waitrose products alongside their own, however, the 10-year supply and branding deal signed in 2010 expired and Ocado began a joint venture with Marks & Spencer instead.[34] Deliveries were temporarily suspended following a "surge in demand" when the venture was first announced.[35]

Since January 2014, Ocado have provided the website, warehousing and delivery services for one of their main grocery rivals Morrisons supermarkets, allowing them to operate online using Ocado's network of depots to deliver Morrisons groceries to online customers.[36] The fulfilment of Morrisons.com grocery website customer orders comes from Ocado's Dordon Customer Fulfilment Centre (CFC) in the Midlands, with deliveries brought to the customer's doorstep via Morrisons liveried fleet. Morrisons made an initial capital payment of up to £170m to Ocado to acquire the Dordon site and associated mechanical handling equipment, as well as a licence and integration fee. A further £46m was invested to expand Dordon in order to accommodate Morrisons range, integrate with Morrisons systems and establish a network of delivery spokes. On an annual basis, Morrisons pay service costs and a contribution to research and development expenditure.[37]

Technology

Robots move on the grid inside an Ocado warehouse
Robots inside an Ocado warehouse
logo for Ocado Technology
Ocado Technology logo

Ocado Technology, a division of Ocado Group, designs most of Ocado's technology in-house, including but not limited to: website and apps; automated warehouses and robots; Machine Learning-based fraud detection and customer service systems; forecasting and routing systems.[38][39] They describe themselves as specialists in: automation and robotics; big data and the cloud; web and app development; algorithms and smart optimisation; and discrete event-simulation.[40]

Ocado's warehouses are built with a giant 3D grid structure inside, within which groceries are stored in crates. On top, robots (over 1,000 per warehouse) coordinate in swarm-like behaviour to collect and move the crates. The robots bring the crates up from the grid into their interior and take them to pickers so the groceries inside the crate can be packed into orders. They then move the crate back into the grid. The robots can work together to 'dig' for the crates, moving crates out of the way to collect one buried lower in a stack. The movement of the robots and the storage location of the crates is managed and optimised by a central 'control system' using Artificial Intelligence. In this way, Ocado can pick a 50 item order in minutes.[41]

These 'hive' style warehouses are located in Andover and Erith. The Erith site is 36 acres, capable of processing 220,000 orders a week, with up to 3,500 robots running on its grid. Ocado's older warehouses, located in Hatfield and Dordon, are based on a complex conveyor system and use Artificial Intelligence to plan and optimise picking sequence, product location, and crate routing.[42]

Ocado Technology was involved in two EU-funded Horizon 2020 robotics research projects: SecondHands[43] and SOMA[44] and continues to experiment with robotics for automating picking and packing of grocery orders.[45]

Ocado has six technology development centres in Europe: Hatfield and London in the UK; Kraków and Wroclaw in Poland; Sofia in Bulgaria; Barcelona in Spain.[46]

In 2014, volunteers from Ocado Technology founded Code for Life, an initiative to provide schools with free resources for teaching coding.[47]

In November 2020, Ocado announced the acquisition of two United States' robotic start-up firms. Ocado acquired San Francisco-based robotics firm Kindred Systems for $262 million and Las Vegas-based firm Haddington Dynamics for $25 million as the supermarket retailer looks to "accelerate delivery, innovate more and grow faster," according to CEO Tim Steiner.[48]

Ocado Smart Platform

The Ocado Smart Platform is Ocado's hardware and software platform for operating retail businesses online. It is this side-step from being a UK grocer into becoming a global technology provider that has seeded some analysts predictions of a £100 share price by 2030[49] Clients include the following supermarket chains: Morrisons (UK); ICA (Sweden); Group Casino (France); Sobeys (Canada); Kroger (USA) and Bon Preu (Spain).[50]

An Ocado electric van, parked in London
An Ocado electric van, parked in London
An Ocado van with the bonnet up at a London depot
An Ocado van with the bonnet up at a London depot

Name

Jez Frampton, CEO of Interbrand and non-executive director of Ocado, claims the name "Ocado" is "a made-up word, intended to evoke fresh fruit". Neil Taylor, an Interbrand consultant, stated that the name was a variant on the avocado fruit.[51]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Ocado History". Ocado. 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2019" (PDF). Ocado. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  3. ^ Premack, Rachel. "The UK online grocer that's helping Kroger battle Amazon blew up the biggest misconception about delivering groceries to Americans". Business Insider. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Ocado Group". Ocado Group. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Ocado: facts and figures". 1 February 2011. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  6. ^ "Ocado: timeline of ups and down". 22 January 2013. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Ocado prepares for 2006 flotation". The Guardian. 24 December 2004. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  8. ^ "John Lewis nets £220m from selling Ocado stake". The Telegraph. 12 February 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Waitrose and Ocado Announce New 10 Year Branding and Sourcing Deal". John Lewis Partnership. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011.
  10. ^ Wood, Zoe; Kollewe, Julia (12 February 2011). "Ocado share sell-off delivers £152m to John Lewis pension fund". The Guardian. London. p. 45.
  11. ^ "devoted to your shopping". Ocado. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  12. ^ "Ocado Android app allows mobile grocery shopping using voice". Internet Retailing. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  13. ^ Sabharwal, Veebs. "Ocado Technology launches world's first grocery shopping app for Apple Watch". Retail Gazette. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Ocado's IPO Buyers Include Fidelity, Other Early Investors". Wall Street Journal. 29 July 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Ocado Smart Platform Explained - Ocado Group plc Annual Report 2014". Ocado Group. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  16. ^ Lomas, Natasha. "Ocado launches Alexa app for grocery shopping by voice". Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  17. ^ "How Ocado is beating Amazon and plans to take over the world". Sifted. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Ocado shares soar after French deal". BBC News. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  19. ^ "Sobeys to expand online grocery business by tying up with Britain's ecommerce giant Ocado". Financial Post. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  20. ^ "Sobeys predicts e-commerce dominance with Ocado". Supermarket News. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  21. ^ "Loblaw plans to 'blanket' Canada with e-commerce options by the end of 2018". Globe and Mail. 3 May 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  22. ^ "Ocado shares rocket 44% on US tech deal". BBC News. 17 May 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  23. ^ "Kroger is Building an Enduring Advantage". Progressive Grocer. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  24. ^ Gibbons, Katie (9 February 2019). "Ocado robots at Andover warehouse 'hampered' firefighters". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  25. ^ "Ocado warehouse fire finally out". 8 February 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  26. ^ Butler, Sarah; Busby, Mattha (6 February 2019). "Ocado warehouse fire: Homes evacuated amid 'explosion risk'". BBC News.
  27. ^ "Houses and industrial estate evacuated due to Ocado warehouse fire". The Guardian. 6 February 2019.
  28. ^ "Bringing the best together and transforming UK online grocery shopping: M&S and Ocado announce new joint venture". Marks and Spencer. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  29. ^ Macaulay, Tom (4 June 2019). "Ocado plans to pack up fragile fruit and vegetables with robotic 'soft hands' that adapt to objects and their surroundings". ComputerworldUK. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  30. ^ "British online grocer Ocado warns of "exceptionally high demand" as coronavirus spreads". Quartz. 2 March 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  31. ^ "Coronavirus: Online shopping website Ocado suspends service". BBC News. 18 March 2020. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  32. ^ Davies, Rob (29 March 2020). "Ocado buys 100,000 Covid-19 test kits to ensure 'safety for all'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  33. ^ Davey, James (7 November 2008). "Update 2-John Lewis moves Ocado stake to pension fund". Reuters. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  34. ^ "M&S update to customers | Ocado". Ocado. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Ocado halts staff deliveries amid order backlog". BBC News. 3 September 2020. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  36. ^ Moulds, Josephine (17 May 2013). "Ocado tie-up to help Morrisons start selling groceries online". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  37. ^ "Morrisons Announce Deal With Ocado". FMC News.
  38. ^ "Ocado delivers with in-house software development". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  39. ^ High, Peter. "Lessons From The Man Who Is Revolutionizing The Grocery Business". Forbes. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  40. ^ "About". Ocado Technology. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  41. ^ Vincent, James (8 May 2018). "Welcome to the automated warehouse of the future". The Verge. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  42. ^ Excell, Jon (13 March 2017). "Ocado Engineering reshapes retail with robotics and automation". The Engineer. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  43. ^ "EU robotics project gives maintenance workers a 'second pair of hands'". VentureBeat. 5 May 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  44. ^ Saran, Cliff (12 May 2020). "Cobots: From Robbie to Armar-6". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  45. ^ "How Ocado and SOMA Consortium Partners made major breakthroughs in robotic manipulation". Ocado Technology. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  46. ^ "About". Ocado Technology. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  47. ^ "Ocado Technology readies primary school teachers with code initiative". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  48. ^ Shead, Sam (2 November 2020). "British online supermarket Ocado acquires two U.S. robotics start-ups". CNBC. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  49. ^ "Ocado's Share Price May Reach 100 Pounds by 2030, Bernstein Says". Bloomberg. 12 March 2020. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  50. ^ "Morrisons". Ocado Solutions. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  51. ^ Mark Kleinman on marketing and the City: Can Ocado deliver more? Brand Republic, 22 September 2009

External links

This page was last edited on 2 December 2020, at 14:50
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