Ocado snaps up robotics firms as online grocery sees record numbers

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Ocado is to make acquisitions of some $300 million of automation and robotics firms in the USA, at the same time as revealing a boost in profitability on the back of growing e-commerce grocery volumes.

Ocado told investors it had seen a significant rise in demand as more consumers seek goods online due to the pandemic, in the same quarter as it wound down activities for Waitrose and began selling and distributing goods from its joint venture partner Marks & Spencer.

As a result Ocado Group said that it expects full year EBITDA for the group to be more than £60 million, compared to a previous guidance of more than £40 million.

Furthermore, Ocado Group has acquired piece-picking robot company Kindred Systems, for $262 million (£202 million) and, in a separate transaction has also acquired robotic arm designer and manufacturer, Haddington Dynamics for $25 million (£19 million).

Chief Executive Tim Steiner said: “We consider the opportunities for robotic manipulation solutions to be significant, both for Ocado Smart Platform clients and across the fast-growing online retail and logistics sectors. 

“Given the market opportunity we want to accelerate the development of our systems, including improving their speed, accuracy, product range and economics.”

Marin Tchakarov, CEO of Kindred Systems, said: “Benefitting from Ocado’s excellence in research, technology, product development, and partnering will give Kindred Systems the opportunity to continue to grow and stay at the forefront of AI and machine learning automation and workforce collaboration.”

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