Ocado says devastating Andover fire started by robot battery charging station

Ocado has said that the devastating blaze which destroyed its high-tech distribution centre in Andover was caused by an electrical fault in one of the centres’ 1000 plus robots.

In February this year, Ocado announced that its flagship automated distribution centre, which was capable of processing over 65,000 orders per week was destroyed by a fire, causing the company’s shares to fall by nearly eight per cent and Ocado to warn investors of a potential fall in revenue growth.

A report conducted by its insurers FM Global has now determined the source of the fire, reporting that an electrical fault in one of its automated robot’s first-generation battery charging stations caused its plastic top to catch fire.

READ MORE: Ocado to resume operations in fire-damaged Andover centre by end of the month

This news sent Ocado’s shares dropping 5.4 per cent in morning trading, as its business model relies heavily on its reputation for creating market-leading automated solutions, and selling them to third party retailers.

Despite this decline, Ocado said it was confident “there are no significant implications for the risk profile of the group’s assets or the viability of the group’s model.”

It added that it has taken action to ensure a similar event does not happen again, while introducing increased fire safety measures to its location.

Earlier this month it was reported that Ocado was aiming to begin resuming deliveries from its Andover warehouse by then end of April.

According to the Andover Advertiser, the online grocery retailer has started installing 10,000sq ft of temporary refrigeration units at the site.

Despite fears it could have a wider impact, Ocado posted revenue growth of 11.2 per cent to £404 million in the first quarter.

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