Japan's Aeon strengthens Ocado partnership

British online supermarket and technology group Ocado has announced plans to strengthen its partnership with Japanese retail giant Aeon by building a third customer fulfilment centre (CFC) in Japan.

The new robotic warehouse will be located in Kuki-Miyashiro, Saitama prefecture, and is slated to open in 2027.

This expansion comes as Aeon marks the first anniversary of its Aeon Next online grocery delivery brand, which launched in July 2023 with the opening of its first CFC in Chiba-city. A second facility in Hachioji is already in the pipeline, due to commence operations in 2026.

The partnership, which began in 2019, aims to revolutionise Aeon's online grocery business using Ocado's Smart Platform technology. In addition to network expansion, Aeon will upgrade its existing operations with Ocado's latest innovations, including the "On-Grid Robotic Pick" system. This technology is expected to significantly boost labour productivity, helping Aeon address Japan's long-term labour shortage challenges and reduce operational costs.

Ocado CEO Tim Steiner expressed enthusiasm about the partnership's progress, stating, "Today is an exciting moment for Aeon and Ocado's relationship as we deepen our already strong partnership. We can't wait to bring this service to even more customers in the years to come."

The announcement has been viewed positively by industry observers, especially in light of recent concerns surrounding Ocado's partnership with Canadian supermarket Sobeys, which recently paused plans for a fourth robotic warehouse.

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