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Waitrose teams up with automation start-up for post-Ocado future

Waitrose

Waitrose has chosen an automation start-up founded by former Google executives as it seeks to treble the size of its online business in three years.

The grocer will work with Today Development Partners (TDP) to build three new highly automated distribution centres. TDP was founded by Jonathan Faiman, a co-founder of Ocado, and Mo Gawdat, the former chief business officer at Google’s research arm.

Waitrose has also created a new digital director role, filled by retail director Ben Stimson, who will lead Waitrose’s online growth and manage the TDP relationship.

The supermarket fulfils online orders through a combination of orders picked from store with orders from its centre in Coulsdon. Its online business grew 14.2% in the year to January.

Recently Ocado announced that it would not renew its distribution deal with Waitrose in favour of a new agreement with M&S when it expires in 2021. Waitrose’s MD played down the impact of the deal at a recent event.

Rob Collins, MD of Waitrose & Partners, commented: ‘Waitrose.com is a popular and efficient home delivery service that is already growing strongly ahead of the market.  The plans announced today represent a clear commitment to achieve rapid step-change in Waitrose.com’s capacity and capability as we build a modern, well-invested digital business that is fit for the future.

‘The development of our new Customer Fulfilment Centres will triple our delivery capacity, bringing our well-loved service and delicious food to more customers across the UK and setting Waitrose.com on the path to becoming a £1 billion turnover business.’

Jonathan Faiman, CEO of Today Development Partners said: “I am more excited about this new venture than anything I’ve done in my career. I am delighted and privileged to be back within the John Lewis Partnership family and we will deliver for Waitrose.com customers the world’s best digital home delivery service.”

Mo Gawdat, chief business officer of TDP, said: “What we’re aiming to build is the kind of platform that touches everyone’s life. With the advancement in technology and with Waitrose.com as our partner we aim to make the experience of using this technology a great experience for the customer.”

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