Kroger, fending off online rivals, ups stake in UK's Ocado

Kroger is upping its investment in the British online grocer Ocado as it fends off Amazon.com and other online threats to traditional grocers.

Kroger said Thursday that the subscription rights agreement will give it access to Ocado's online ordering, automated fulfillment and home delivery technology in the U.S.

Kroger Co. and Ocado will choose three sites for development of new, automated warehouse facilities in the U.S. They'll identify up to 20 over the first three years of the deal.

The threat to traditional grocers became crystal clear after Amazon's $16 billion acquisition of Whole Foods. Kroger is also in competition with Walmart and Target.

Shares of Kroger, based in Cincinnati, rose nearly 3 percent in premarket trading. Ocado Group Plc. soared 50 percent in London.

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