Ocado Technology strikes AI deal with Japanese retail giant

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UK-based robotics and automation specialist Ocado Technology has announced a deal to provide AI capabilities to Japanese retail company Aeon.

“We are pleased to announce the signing of an agreement… to develop Aeon’s online grocery business in Japan using the Ocado Smart Platform,” said Ocado in a statement.

Aeon chief executive Motoya Okada referred to the British company as a “state-of-the-art, exciting and transformative partner” that will align with its own “strategy of accelerating Aeon’s digital shift to serve Japan’s consumers”.

Aeon is Ocado’s first partner in Asia, having already expanded into the USA.

Under the Aeon deal, the first warehouse operated largely by robots will serve Japan’s Kanto region from 2023, to be followed by further “customer fulfilment centres” in the two years thereafter.

The news follows a recent announcement by the Competition and Markets Authority that allows Ocado Group to stop calling itself a grocer, as it shifts its business from online retail to software and robotics.

“Ocado’s future relies on growing the Solutions business – where it builds state-of-the-art robotic warehouses that fulfil tens of thousands of online orders a week for its partners,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

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