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Waitrose plans third London online fulfilment centre as Ocado extends robotics deal

Waitrose has announced it will build a third distribution centre to rapidly scale up its online presence, while partner Ocado has extended a partnership with a UK robotics company.

Run by 3PL Wincanton, Waitrose’s new fulfilment centre will be located in Greenford, West London.

The supermarket aims to have the site operating by December of this year.

It will supplement two existing sites in the London area: one in Coulsdon and another in Enfield, the latter having opened last month.

Waitrose executive director James Bailey: “While we’ve already pulled forward our online expansion plans by six months we know there are still lots of people who want to shop online with us and currently can’t.

“This is especially the case in London, where we’ve seen a significant and prolonged surge in demand for our online offer. This new centre will help us better serve the London area with a much broader range of slots.”

Waitrose has scaled up its online offering recently, including doubling its number of weekly slots to over 150,000 and expanding its Rapid same-day service to 7000 orders per week.

The growth is primarily in response to the growth in online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

Longer term, however, the greater capacity will help insulate Waitrose against the end of its partnership to supply goods to Ocado’s online grocery service in September.

Meanwhile, Ocado itself has announced it will extend its partnership with Tharsus, a UK-based robotics supplier.

The agreement, set to last until 2024, will see Tharsus continue to manufacture robots for Ocado’s automated distribution centres.