The grocery chain Waitrose is stepping up its online presence by opening a giant virtual store.
The move means it will be able to supply more products direct to customers, sidestepping its delivery partner, Ocado.
Traditionally, Waitrose products have been delivered by the specialist online business.
A new agreement between the two will allow Waitrose to deliver direct, albeit from stores rather than a depot.
A clause in the two companies’ 10-year contract – signed last year – will this summer allow Waitrose to supply web-based orders as long as it does so from stores within the M25.
By adding a giant virtual store, Waitrose will be able to vastly boost its operations as demand grows.
Earlier this year Ocado said it planned to make big increases in capacity to meet growing demand.
Ocado saw sales rise 25% in the 12 weeks to 20 February compared with a year earlier, and said it was unable to meet demand fully.
It is building new warehouses to expand capacity.
Waitrose is owned by the John Lewis Partnership, whose pension fund sold its stake in Ocado in February this year leading to speculation the two food businesses would become competitors.
Ocado said it was “delighted to see Waitrose expanding its presence”.
It added: “In areas where Ocado and Waitrose operate together, both brands grow faster.”
Source : BBC News