Kroger Link-up Boosts Brit-Based Ocado

The deal with Kroger takes Ocado's home-delivery platform into the US for the first time

The deal with Kroger will be the first time that Ocado has brought its business to the U.S. The company is based out of United Kingdom, where it operates its own retail stores and online grocery delivery.

Kroger and online supermarket operator Ocado have formed an exclusive partnership agreement in the US that will accelerate Kroger's e-commerce shopping platform. As part of the deal, Kroger will be taking a stake in the British company which would be equivalent to 5 percent of the existing share capital valued at 183 million pounds.

A Kroger spokesman said the Instacart relationship was unaffected by the Ocado deal, adding that it viewed them as "complimentary".

"We look forward to innovating together with Ocado to provide our customers the best possible online and in store experience", said Alex Tosolini, Kroger's Senior Vice President of Business Development.

Britain was one of the first countries to see widespread adoption of online grocery shopping, giving its retailers a head start in developing technology to deal with the challenges of delivering food, especially fresh and frozen goods.

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Ocado shares soared as much as 80 percent to an all-time high.

Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chief executive, said the partnership would the grocer "redefine the food and grocery customer experience - creating value for customers and shareholders alike".

The move arrives as Kroger has made a commitment to spend some savings that were generated by the corporate tax reform, on different digital initiatives.

USA supermarkets fear Amazon could apply its distribution know-how to Whole Foods, quickly turning the existing stores into a grocery delivery network.

Ocado's technology automates the processing and packing of online grocery orders, using hundreds of robots in technologically advanced order fulfillment centers.

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Kroger Co shares were trading at $25.58 per share on Thursday morning, up $0.64 (+2.57%).

In 2016, it was reported that Ocado was close to a deal with Kroger's rival Publix.

Recently, Ocado has been working on licensing their technology solutions and had created partnerships with Morrisons, Grupe Casino and Sobeys in Canada.

"Amazon has indeed fuelled a US Ocado deal, ' said Peel Hunt analyst James Lockyer, who rates the shares a 'buy" and placed his target price under review.

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