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

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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 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 is expected to use Ocado’s 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 .

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