French supermarket Groupe Casino has signed a deal with Ocado to use the British online retailer’s grocery e-commerce platform to develop its online business, starting with

A partnership with an international retailer has been seen by analysts as key to Ocado’s growth prospects and the group said yesterday it expected the deal to create significant long-term value.

The agreement includes plans to build a customer fulfilment centre using Ocado’s proprietary mechanical handling equipment to serve the Greater Paris area, the Normandie and Hauts de France regions, the companies said.

“This agreement is a major leap in terms of quality: 50,000 food items will be offered in the first stage to customers in the Greater Paris area with precise and speedy delivery at home and through a platform which makes it achievable to do this profitably,” said Groupe Casino chief executive Jean-Charles Naouri.

Ocado said the deal would be earnings neutral in its 2018 financial year, which starts next week, with the costs of establishing the partnership offsetting the initial fees payable.

Ocado said it expected to incur additional capital expenditure of £15 million in the 2018 full year to support this partnership and accelerate the development of the platform, with further capex in future years.

In June this year it struck an overseas deal with an unnamed regional European retailer to provide software, know-how and support services, a year-and-a-half after missing a self-imposed deadline to secure one.

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