Dobbies Garden Centres and Ocado sign deal to provide garden website and delivery services

Dobbies Garden Centres has signed a five year agreement with Speciality Stores, the general merchandise subsidiary of Ocado Group plc, for the provision of online services.

These services will enable Dobbies to launch a new online store early next year serving the whole of the UK.

Dobbies will benefit from the technology, software, logistics and expertise employed by Speciality Stores, and its online orders will be fulfilled using Speciality Stores’ general merchandise warehouse.

The company said the agreement will enable Dobbies to offer an "outstanding online experience, delivering direct to existing as well as new customers across the UK".

Dobbies chairman Andrew Bracey is a former chief financial officer for Ocado and it has been suggested he would link Dobbies with the company since he took over in 2006. The terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.

Dobbies chief executive Nicholas Marshall appointed Marcus Eyles to run Dobbies' online offer this March. Dobbies has long had an online arm based in Reading but Marshall and Bracey believe that area is under-served by garden centres.

Marshall said: "Online, excluding food, is now approaching 40% of UK retail sales and rapidly growing. Yet, online garden retailing is just a few percent. The garden centre industry is at least ten years behind the rest of the retail world. The gardening market in the UK is worth £4 billion. The potential is therefore enormous. For us to partner with Ocado the best online retailer in the UK is a brilliant opportunity for Dobbies, and its customers."

Bracey added: "In our first year of ownership of Dobbies, we are delighted to announce our partnership with Ocado and its general merchandise subsidiary, Speciality Stores to take Dobbies online across the UK. Ocado has an outstanding reputation for service and quality. I am confident that together we can grow a very successful online business for Dobbies across the whole of the UK."

James Matthews, managing director of Ocado General Merchandise, said: "We are pleased to announce this agreement which will enable Dobbies to launch a new online service for their customers, powered by our technological and logistical know-how."


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