Ocado poised to sell clothing as robotic warehousing develops - report
UK home delivery giant Ocado is mulling a move into clothing and homewares, prompted by the rapid growth in online shopping.
The possible move into wider product sales than its core foods offer comes as Ocado said it has made advances in its robotic warehousing capabilities which lends itself to handling apparel and general merchandise, The Telegraph newspaper reported.
The business has bought two tech firms in the US to improve the speed and the scope of robot-picking.
Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner said that although its team would stay focused on grocery, the boom in online shopping "gave it impetus to provide a similar service for non-food items.
“The main aim here is [improving] productivity,” he told the newspaper. “Given the market opportunity, we want to accelerate the development of our systems, including improving their speed, accuracy, product range and economics.
Ocado is buying Kindred Systems, which develops robots used in picking and packing online orders, for $262m (£203m) and robotic arm designer Haddington Dynamic for $25m (£19.3m), pending US watchdog approval.
Steiner added: “I am also excited by the opportunity to enter new markets for robotic solutions outside of grocery that is demonstrated by Kindred Systems’ robust growth, with existing customers such as Gap and American Eagle across the general merchandise and logistics sectors.”
Meanwhile, Ocado also praised its tie-up with Marks & Spencer Tuesday, saying the association has resulted in “strong” related sales since its launch in September.
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