IR Strategy and Innovation

Ocado to power Dobbies Garden Centres online – and may help M&S deliver food

At IRX 2017, Ocado’s James Matthews predicted that the online grocer’s next launch would be in partnership with another retailer, following on from Fabled, its multichannel joint venture with Marie Claire. Today it has a new customer, Dobbies Garden Centres, and there’s speculation that it will also launch with M&S as that retailer trials an online food delivery service.

Dobbies [IRDX RDOB] is set to boost its online sales by offering UK-wide delivery supported by Ocado’s technology, software, logistics and using its general merchandise warehouse. The garden centre group, recently bought out from Tesco’s ownership, has signed a five-year agreement with Ocado Group’s general merchandise subsidiary Speciality Stores, though terms have not been revealed.

Nicholas Marshall, chief executive of Dobbies, said: “Online, excluding food, is now approaching 40% of UK retail sales and rapidly growing. Yet, online garden retailing is just a few percent. The garden centre industry is at least ten years behind the rest of the retail world. The gardening market in the UK is worth £4 billion. The potential is therefore enormous. For us to partner with Ocado, the best online retailer in the UK, is a brilliant opportunity for Dobbies, and its customers.”

James Matthews, managing director of Ocado General Merchandise, said: “We are pleased to announce this agreement which will enable Dobbies to launch a new online service for their customers, powered by our technological and logistical know-how. The expertise we have gained through operating our current Speciality Stores businesses and our Fabled joint venture with Marie Claire has allowed us to provide a compelling service proposition to Dobbies and we are excited to be working with them to help grow their online presence.”

Meanwhile M&S [IRDX RMAS] is expected to use Ocado’s [IRDX ROCA] technology and fulfillment centres to trial an online food delivery service, according to reports. But Ocado would not comment today on the speculation.

If this does come about, this would be a second grocery customer for Ocado’s in-house developed technologies. Its technology and fulfilment services already support [IRDX RMOR].

Mentioned in this piece…

Dobbies Garden Centres

Dobbies Garden Centres


Today Dobbies is a multichannel garden centre retailer, now owned by Tesco.

The business was founded in 1865 by James Dobbie, who created a seeds business named Dobbie & Co.
Dobbies now operates 34 garden centres and restaurants in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as several large tourist attractions including Plantasia, near Coventry. (more…)

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer


Marks and Spencer is a major UK-based retail chain of large stores and convenience outlets for groceries and fashion. (more…)




Ocado is an online supermarket and a vendor of supermarket ecommerce software and robotics.




Morrisons is one of the ‘big four’ British supermarket chains with headquartered in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. Founded in 1899 by William Morrison, the company now has over 400 stores in the UK. (more…)

2 comments on “Ocado to power Dobbies Garden Centres online – and may help M&S deliver food

  1. Darryl Adie said:

    Ocado is interesting because it seems to appeal to retailers in two camps. In the one camp are the retailers that know they will never be technology companies. In the other camp are those that see online as a core part of their overall strategy. Dobbies falls into the former and M&S, the latter. It’s a smart move as both retailers have struggled online for different reasons. If successful, Dobbies will surely disrupt the rather bleak landscape of online garden retail, and M&S will likely take technology in-house after a successful trial. Either way, Ocado is enabling retailers to launch new online services quickly, which is good for consumers.

  2. Pingback: Ocado, Holland & Barrett, Dobbies and Mediamarkt: the latest multichannel updates from leading retailers - InternetRetailing

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