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Ocado launches first automated DC in Canada

warehouse fire

Ocado’s first automated distribution centre has opened in Canada, shipping groceries for the grocery retailer Empire.

The warehouse is located in Vaughan, Ontario, and will serve customers across the Greater Toronto Area.

The new location will support Empire’s online grocery home delivery service, Voilà by Sobeys. The companies plan to bring other centres online in Quebec and the Ottawa area.

Luke Jensen, CEO of Ocado Solutions, said: “This is a milestone moment for Ocado Solutions. Within almost a month, we have brought two international CFCs live and on-time with partners in Canada and France.

“These are testament to the amazing working partnerships we have developed, particularly under recent challenging circumstances with Covid-19.”

“Of course, the current implications for the whole grocery retail sector of adapting to new and unprecedented demand also throw these launches into sharp relief.”

“As Sobeys’ first CFC builds capacity and extends to reach households across the Greater Toronto Area, it will be instrumental in bringing Ocado’s world-beating quality of service to customers in Canada for the first time.”

Sarah Joyce, SVP for Ecommerce, Empire said: “As Ocado’s exclusive Canadian partner, our robotic automated warehouses will set us apart with a higher quality service experience for Canadians.

“Online grocery home delivery is an essential service – one that’s needed now more than ever before. We are thrilled to bring Voilà by Sobeys to the GTA and do our part to help Canadians in this challenging time.”

Ocado’s Smart Platform, which it developed for use itself but now licenses to grocery retailers around the world, consists of a combines a software management layer, wireless connectivity and a robotics grid for picking and packing.

The opening marks the technology’s first launch in North America, after a centre at Fleury-Mérogis near Paris began fulfilling orders for Casino Group in France at the end of March.