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Ocado plots ‘brave’ jump to clothes and homeware

Ocado is looking to take advantage of its heavy investment in technology with a move beyond groceries into clothing and homeware. 

“We need to focus not just on what we have to do today but we have to make sure we innovate for the future,” says Ocado’s chief executive, Tim Steiner. “There’s a big market in food but we are also exploring other applications where our skills at moving things are just as useful as they are in the food market.”

The retailer, which already handles online orders for Dobbies, recently opened a second general merchandise warehouse in Erith, Kent.

“This is a brave move. Makes sense in that Ocado is already reaching shoppers weekly and if they can do online grocery, they can do anything. But would need a curated range so as to differentiate from Amazon (I'm thinking lots of Boden + Orla),” tweeted Natalie Berg, retail analyst and founder of NBK Retail.

Earlier this week, the aforementioned technology investment hit home as Ocado posted a £9 million loss in the six months to 3rd June, compared with pre-tax profits of £7.7 million a year earlier. However, according to Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, “all that red ink shouldn't be the cause of too much alarm as Ocado is very much in execution mode now.”