Dobbies has signed a five year agreement with Ocado to provide the garden centre retailer with an eCommerce platform and accompanying logistics.

The general merchandise subsidiary of Ocado, Speciality Stores, will ensure Dobbies launches a UK eCommerce operation early next year.

Similar to the Fabled and Marie Claire agreement, Ocado will provide Dobbies will technology, software and logistics, while its online orders will be fulfilled from the Speciality Stores general merchandise warehouse.

"Online, excluding food, is now approaching 40% of UK retail sales and rapidly growing. Yet, online garden retailing is just a few percent," said Dobbies CEO, Nicholas Marshall. "The garden centre industry is at least ten years behind the rest of the retail world. The gardening market in the UK is worth £4 billion. The potential is therefore enormous. For us to partner with Ocado the best online retailer in the UK is a brilliant opportunity for Dobbies, and its customers."

Andrew Bracey, chairman of Dobbies, added: "In our first year of ownership of Dobbies, we are delighted to announce our partnership with Ocado and its general merchandise subsidiary, Speciality Stores to take Dobbies online across the UK.  Ocado has an outstanding reputation for service and quality. I am confident that together we can grow a very successful online business for Dobbies across the whole of the UK."

Meanwhile, James Matthews, MD of Ocado General Merchandise, said: "We are pleased to announce this agreement which will enable Dobbies to launch a new online service for their customers, powered by our technological and logistical know-how. The expertise we have gained through operating our current Speciality Stores businesses and our Fabled joint venture with Marie Claire has allowed us to provide a compelling service proposition to Dobbies and we are excited to be working with them to help grow their online presence."

It is also rumoured that Ocado could soon be providing eCommerce operations for M&S Food, which revealed would trial an online delivery service later this year. Over the weekend, the Daily Telegraph said Ocado and M&S would be talking about a potential partnership over the coming weeks.