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Ocado has finally announced a long-trailed partnership with an international retailer that may mark the start of its transformation from an online grocer into a technology provider.

The British group has signed a deal with France’s Groupe Casino to develop what it calls the “Ocado Smart Platform” in France.

This comes after Ocado said in June that it had forged such an agreement with an “international retailer” that it declined to name.

Ocado, which started out delivering Waitrose food and became profitable only in 2014 after cutting a deal to run Wm Morrison’s online grocery business, has long promised investors it will begin to sell its technology to retailers outside the UK. The plan was treated with widespread scepticism for many years, particularly after Ocado missed a self-imposed deadline to find two customers for its technology platform by the end of 2015.

On Tuesday Ocado, which has been developing food storage and delivery depots staffed by robots, said the deal with Casino would involve ” the construction of its latest generation, state-of-the-art automated warehouse,” as well as ” front-end website functionality, last-mile routing management and big data, real time implementation.”

Groupe Casino chief executive Jean Charles Naouri said this meant “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.”

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