Ocado Andover warehouse up and running after fire

A new Ocado warehouse has begun full operations after the original was gutted by a “terrible” fire.

The facility in Andover, Hampshire burned down in 2019 when a robot, used for packing groceries, burst into flames thanks to a faulty charging unit.

The building burned for four days and reportedly cost the online grocer around £100 million.

According to the BBC, the new 217,000 sq ft complex can process almost 59,000 orders per week – almost double the original.

READ MORE: Ocado bows to staff pressure to allow working from abroad

Ocado had previously said there would be “more efficient utilisation” of the rebuilt centre.

It will be staffed by around 1700 people, some of whom lost their jobs in the fire.

“There is a huge emotional connection for so many of us returning to Andover seeking to capture the magic of what we had before,” general manager Matt Whitwell said earlier this year.

He added that Ocado would improve “employee experience and operational effectiveness” at the new site.

The retailer has seen its popularity soar over the Covid-19 pandemic, with sales increasing by 40 per cent in the first three months of lockdown.

However, it faced another setback last month when its largest warehouse in Erith, South East London caught fire after three robots collided.

The facility, which processes 150,000 orders every week, was forced to cancel deliveries for days afterwards. 

It caused Ocado’s share price to slump by 4.6 per cent, hitting its lowest level in over a year.

Last month, Marks and Spencer chairman Archie Norman said that the online grocer needed to improve its delivery network, which fails to cover large tracts of the country.

The supermarkets began a £750 million partnership in September 2020. 

“I’m not saying there aren’t issues,” Norman told investors.

“Ocado can’t serve a lot of Marks and Spencer customers – they are still building more capacity.”

Since Ocado’s warehouses are automated, building new sites and expanding its reach is expected to be slow.

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