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Source: planning.org

The Ocado Zoom site in Canning Town

Ocado has announced it will open four Ocado Zoom sites “over the next 18 months” which will deliver orders to customers in surrounding areas within an hour.

The first of the new locations is expected to open in Canning Town in London in the second quarter of this year. Three further sites, one in London and two in “other UK cities” will arrive within the next year-and-a-half.

The announcement signals a slowdown in Ocado’s ambitions for Zoom’s rollout. In September 2020 Ocado CEO Tim Steiner told The Grocer “there’s clearly demand for a dozen or two dozen Zooms just in London alone”. In February 2021, he revealed the company was “looking for an additional dozen sites within London’s M25 orbital motorway” which would “support the ambitious rollout plan of Ocado Retail”.

Having opened the first and currently only Zoom location in Acton, west London slightly ahead of schedule in 2019, Ocado weeks later said “we are well advanced in our planning” for a second site.

Planning documents for the second Zoom site in Canning Town seen by The Grocer show a warehouse of 13,957 sq ft with around 1,000 sq ft of office space.

The site – on an industrial park between Canning Town and West Ham tube stations – features six electric vehicle charging points, an e-bike parking bay and 25 car spots.

It is likely the new sites will feature Ocado’s new lighter grid system and 600 Series robots, which the company says can be installed more quickly in spaces of 10,000 sq ft or more.

Some 10,000 products are available on Ocado’s Zoom service, about a fifth of Ocado’s total range, spanning ambient, chilled and fresh. Orders are picked and delivered by Zoom workers, having previously been delivered by third-party courier Stuart. The minimum order is £15 and there is a £1.99 delivery charge.

The service is facing stiff competition from much faster grocery delivery services like Getir, Gopuff and Gorillas, which promise delivery in around 15 minutes.

Those players are rolling out new dark stores at a considerable rate, with Getir sites now numbering more than 100 after launching only 13 months ago.

Steiner has previously dismissed the rapid grocers as a fad. “It’s a tiny market,” Steiner said in August. “That’s just not how people are going to behave.”