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Ocado hit by warehouse fire as it announces one-hour delivery service


Online grocer Ocado has seen deliveries disrupted by a major warehouse fire in Hampshire as it announced plans for a one-hour delivery service.
The company said that nobody had suffered injury but a proportion of its mechanical handling equipment and some of its robotic grid had been damaged.

Ocado said that orders that had already left the warehouse will be delivered as normal but all other orders had been suspended.

“We will assess the damage this incident has caused to the Andover CFC and will update further as appropriate,” said a company spokesperson. A suspected cause of the fire was not specified.

The Andover facility opened at the end of 2016, choosing the site because of its direct access to the A303, while Erith, near the M25, opened in mid-2018.

The fire came the same day that Ocado announced plans for Zoom during an investor presentation for its full year results, which will offer a range of around 1000 products within 60 minutes of an order.

The grocer said the proposition would be powered by its automated fulfilment capabilities and “wide-ranging distribution network.” It will offer small batches with “competitive pricing”, aiming to tap into the sub-£60 order section of the market.

The initial trial will take place from March in West London. Ocado did not say how long the trail would last.

Recently Ocado has been the subject of speculation that it would sign a new deal with Marks & Spencer. Details in the Mail on Sunday report were vague at this stage but suggested that Ocado could effectively replace its range of Waitrose products with M&S ones. It also mentioned M&S potentially buying distribution centres, delivery vans and lorries from Ocado in a technology supply deal.

However, the grocer did not discuss a potential agreement in its results. These showed revenues of £1.6 billion for the year, up from £1.4 billion in 2017. However, EBITDA was down to £60 million from £75 million due to increased resources spent on developing the Ocado Smart Platform, staff costs and the opening of a new fulfilment centre in Erith.

In its December results, Ocado reported rising revenues due to the added capacity from its automated fulfilment centres.

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