M&S and Ocado joint venture goes live

Ocado’s joint venture with M&S has gone live, which saw the online grocer switch from providing Waitrose-branded goods which has been the norm for its shoppers for the last 18 years. Consumers can now shop from 6,000 M&S-branded food items, as well as Ocado’s range of own-label products and big-name brands.

The partnership was first announced back in February 2019, which saw M&S acquire half of Ocado’s UK retail business which would allow it to start selling its products via Ocado.com – years after its grocery competitors took the plunge into eCommerce.

The new 50-50 JV, which involved a £750 million investment from M&S, is supported by the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) technology infrastructure that the online grocer uses to help run third-parties' eCommerce operations around the world.

The struggling high street retailer needs to make its food business work even harder in the coming months, as its lacklustre clothing and home business is still not resonating with shoppers. Only two weeks ago, M&S announced 7,000 job cuts across its business over the next three months at both store and management level. The retailer said the streamlining strategy reflects the shift to online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the introduction of in-store technology due to its partnership with Microsoft, which has “enabled us to reduce layers of management and overheads in the support office”.

Meanwhile, Waitrose has announced a rapid delivery trial with Deliveroo starting from today. In an initial 12-week period, more than half a million UK households will be able to order from over 500 Waitrose products and have them delivered in as little as under 30 minutes by a Deliveroo driver. Items available through the initiative include ready meals, fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, snacks, store cupboard and cleaning essentials. The trial will begin in Waitrose stores in Bracknell and Clifton on 1 September, before launching in its Surbiton, Fitzroy Street (Cambridge), and Notting Hill shops from 3 September. If successful, it is expected the trial will be expanded to further locations before being rolled out on a larger scale.