Ocado expands Kroger partnership despite fears it could be banned from importing tech to US

Ocado has significantly expanded its partnership with US grocery giant Kroger helping quell investor fears it could be banned from importing its tech into the country.

Kroger today announced that it plans to construct a new high tech 200,000sq ft customer fulfilment centre with Ocado, as well as rolling out its in-store fulfilment (ISF) software across stores to help meet increased demand for online delivery.

The news will come as a relief to Ocado, which is currently being sued by Norwegian tech firm AutoStore over claims it has infringed a number of its patents.

Earlier this month, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) announced plans to open a formal investigation into Ocado which would prevent it bringing any robots or other key technology into the country.

This threatened its tie-up with Kroger, currently its largest corporate client, for which it is in the process of building 20 automated distribution centres across the US.

READ MORE: Ocado says patent infringement case will harm “public health, safety and welfare” of Americans

Ocado argued that the legal action “will harm the ability of US consumers, especially consumers in underserved communities, to obtain healthy and affordable food and also will harm Kroger’s ability to compete with established online grocers”.

However, Kroger doubling down on its investment in Ocado will be music to the ears of investors worried that its expansion in the lucrative US market would be hampered at such a crucial time for its growth.

“Kroger continues to accelerate the development and rollout of customer-centric technology and digital capabilities to build a seamless ecosystem that combines the best of the physical store experience with the digital experience,” Kroger’s chief technology and digital officer Yael Cosset said.

“Ocado’s in-store fulfilment capabilities, leveraging AI, will further contribute to continuous improvement of the customer pickup experience.”

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