Kroger Partner Ocado Prevails Over AutoStore in Trial

British grocery tech company Ocado has won a patent-infringement case filed by a rival firm.

AutoStore had filed the lawsuit last year in both the United States and the United Kingdom, saying it was the inventor and rightful owner of patents filed by the Ocado Group.

Both companies use vertical-grid robotics in warehouses; the Kroger Co. partnered exclusively with Ocado in 2018 on building at least 20 customer fulfillment centers (CFC).

On Dec. 8, Kroger announced it will open a new CFC in North Carolina, powered by Ocado and combining vertical integration, machine learning and robotics.

“The acceleration of our delivery business continues with the development of an additional customer fulfillment center, advancing our commitment to creating career opportunities and serving shoppers fresh food fast through interconnected, automated, and innovative facilities and last-mile solutions across America,” said Gabriel Arreaga, Kroger’s SVP and chief supply chain officer. 

The North Carolina CFC, measuring 200,000 square feet, is expected to become operational within 24 months after the site breaks ground and will employ up to 700 associates over the next five years.

“We’re excited to come to North Carolina in partnership with Kroger,” said Luke Jensen, CEO of Ocado Solutions. “As demonstrated by the two state-of-the-art CFCs already live in other parts of the country, Ocado is helping Kroger to establish a new high-bar in the type of quality and service that U.S. grocery shoppers can receive online. We can’t wait for customers across North Carolina to experience online delivery, enabled by Ocado’s unique technology.”

The Kroger Fulfillment Network currently operates CFCs in Groveland, Fla., and Monroe, Ohio, and is slated to open sites in California, Dallas, Forest Park, Ga. (Atlanta), Frederick, Md., Phoenix, Ariz., Pleasant Prairie, Wis., Romulus, Mich., (Detroit), as well as South Florida and the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and West.

Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America