Ocado Group

Ocado Group plc
TypePublic limited company
IndustryInternet retail
FoundedApril 2000 (2000-04)[1]
FounderJonathan Faiman
Jason Gissing
Tim Steiner
England, UK
Area served
England and Wales
Key people
Richard Haythornthwaite[2]
Tim Steiner
ServicesGroceries, consumer goods
RevenueIncrease £2,331.8 million (2020)[3]
Increase £(95.8) million (2020)[3]
Increase £(69.6) million (2020)[3]

Ocado Group is a UK-based online grocery solutions and logistics business that licenses its technology to grocery retailers around the world. Ocado Group has a 50% joint stake in the UK online supermarket Ocado Retail or Ocado.com.[4] The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


An Ocado van parked on double yellow lines 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 entered into an agreement to provide software to the French Casino Group.[18]

In January 2018, Ocado completed negotiations to supply software to 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 agreement to supply software to 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 COVID-19 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]

On 12 December 2020, Ocado raised its core earnings forecast for 2019-20 for the second time in two months as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to generate huge demand for home delivery.[33]

In August 2021, Ocado Group appointed former Amazon (company) Vice President and technology entrepreneur Nadia Shouraboura to its non-executive board, with effect from 1st September 2021.[34]

In August 2021, Ocado Group opened a new fulfilment warehouse in Purfleet, UK, for its Ocado Retail grocery partner, of which it owns a 50% joint stake in (alongside Marks & Spencer which owns the other 50% of Ocado Retail). This is its third “customer fulfilment centre” (CFC) to launch in 2021, and up to 1500 people could work there once it is at full capacity. The opening comes one year after Ocado Group created a joint venture of Ocado Retail with Marks & Spencer.[35]

At the start of December 2021, Ocado Group's partner ICA Gruppen opened its first automated online groceries warehouse in Brunna, just outside Stockholm, powered by the Ocado Smart Platform, to deliver customer orders; the first Swedish retailer to open a warehouse with an automated solution for online groceries.[36]

British supermarkets

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.[37] 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.[38] Deliveries were temporarily suspended following a "surge in demand" when the venture was first announced.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41]


Robots move on the grid inside an Ocado warehouse
Robots inside an Ocado warehouse
logo for Ocado Technology
Ocado Technology logo
An Ocado electric van, parked in London

Ocado Technology designs most of Ocado's technology in-house.[42][43]

Inside Ocado's warehouses groceries are stored in crates. The movement of robots in the warehouses 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.[44]

These warehouses are located in Andover and Erith. 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,.[45]

Ocado Technology was involved in two EU-funded Horizon 2020 robotics research projects: SecondHands[46] and SOMA[47] and continues to experiment with robotics for automating picking and packing of grocery orders.[48]

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.[49]

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.[50]

In October 2021, Ocado announced a £10 million investment and partnership with UK-based autonomous vehicles start-up Wayve. The announcement mentioned an autonomous delivery trial, in which Wayve’s technology would be fitted onto some of Ocado delivery vans for testing on urban delivery routes for 12 months.[51]


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.[52]

See also

  • Webvan
  • List of online grocers


  1. ^ "Ocado History". Ocado. 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Mastercard's Richard Haythornthwaite to become Ocado Group's chairman". Reuters. Reuters. 18 December 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Annual Report for the 52 Weeks to 29 November 2020" (PDF). Ocado Group. Ocado Group. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Half-year Report OCADO GROUP PLC". London Stock Exchange. London Stock Exchange. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "Ocado: facts and figures". Daily Telegraph. 1 February 2011. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  6. ^ "Ocado: timeline of ups and down". Daily Telegraph. 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.
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  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.
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  34. ^ "obotics expert Nadia Shouraboura joins Ocado Group". RETAIL TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION HUB. RETAIL TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION HUB. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  35. ^ Bourke, Joanna (September 2021). "Ocado opens new centre in Purfleet to keep expanding". Evening Standard. Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  36. ^ "ICA Gruppen taps Ocado Group tech for online warehouse in Gothenburg". RETAIL TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION HUB. RETAIL TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION HUB. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  37. ^ Davey, James (7 November 2008). "Update 2-John Lewis moves Ocado stake to pension fund". Reuters. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
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