Wednesday 6 February 2019 9:11 am

24-hour blaze at Ocado’s flagship robotics centre burns sales growth

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Reporter covering retail and property. Email stories to

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A major fire at one of Ocado’s key robotic distribution centres is expected to dent sales growth after worsening overnight, with several hundred firefighters being called to the scene in a bid to put out the flames.

Ocado's share price slumped eight per cent in morning trading, after the firm released a statement saying that the blaze, which first started early yesterday morning, "was not contained as we believed, and last night expanded".

“As a result of this incident there will be a constraint on our ability to meet our growing customer demand and there will be a reduction in sales growth until we can increase capacity elsewhere,” it said.

The Andover site, which accounted for roughly 10 per cent of Ocado’s capacity and can process roughly 65,000 orders a week, has suffered substantial damage, with contents being destroyed and the building's roof collapsing.  

Some 200 firefighters and 20 fire engines were sent to the scene of the fire, which broke out on one of its grids of robots.

Although the fire is now under control and no members of the public have been injured, the inferno is a major setback to the grocery distribution giant, which has seen its share price more than double over the last 12 months. 

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"Unfortunately the fire which started yesterday morning in a corner of the ambient grid was not contained as we believed, and last night expanded. Whilst we are informed by the Fire Brigade that it is now under control, during the night part of the roof collapsed and there has been substantial damage to the majority of the building and its contents," Ocado said.

The firm added: "Ocado confirms that no members of the Ocado team or the public have been injured. We are very grateful to the members of the emergency services for their efforts."

The news comes a day after Ocado grabbed the headlines for its latest trading statement, where revenues grew 13 per cent to nearly £1.6bn.

Read more: Ocado’s revenue nears £1.6bn but losses widen