British online supermarket and technology group Ocado said it would buy two robotics companies for a total of $287m and upgraded the full year earnings outlook for its joint venture with Marks & Spencer. 

Ocado said it was buying Kindred Systems, an advanced piece-picking robotics company, for about $262m.

It also said it was buying Haddington Dynamics, a robotic-arm designer and manufacturer, for about $25m. 

Although Ocado has only a 1.8% share of Britain's grocery market, its state-of-the-art technology for robotically operated warehouses has spawned partnerships with supermarket chains around the world, underpinning a stock market valuation of more than £17 billion. 

Ocado said the purchases would enhance its robotic capabilities and accelerate the commercial delivery of robotic picking for its clients. 

They also provide an opportunity for Ocado to enter new markets for robotic solutions outside of grocery. 

"That is demonstrated by Kindred Systems' robust growth, with existing customers such as Gap and American Eagle across the general merchandise and logistics sectors," said Ocado CEO Tim Steiner. 

The transactions will have no financial impact in the current financial year, Ocado said.

It forecast they would increase 2021 revenue by about £30m with a small negative impact on core earnings - earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). 

Ocado also upgraded the full-year core earnings outlook for Ocado Retail Ltd, its joint venture with Marks & Spencers, due to strong fourth quarter trading so far. 

It said it expects full year EBITDA for Ocado Retail to be over £60m compared to its previous guidance of more than £40m. 

"Ocado continues to see high demand as consumers migrate to online grocery in record numbers," it said.

Ocado also said that although demand for grocery products was currently strong it was not seeing consumers stockpiling goods such as toilet rolls in preparation for new Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. 

"Yes, we are seeing strong demand. No, we're not seeing particular stockpiling of things, of toilet paper," Ocado's chief executive Tim Steiner told reporters. 

"We are continuing to trade at peak volumes every day which is a very strong sales pattern, hence the upgrade we've announced today," he said.