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UK’s largest retailer soon to trial drone delivery in Ireland

Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer, said this week it will trial grocery drone deliveries in Ireland as the company experiments with different approaches to reach more customers. CEO, Dave Lewis, explained the pilot would take place in Ireland during October, where partner Manna has a license to operate drones.

Lewis commented during a company webcast on ‘disruptive innovation’, “Manna has already proven its capability in Ireland. The question being, how do we take this and apply it to Tesco.”

He went on to say that Tesco has four innovation priority areas: food and drink products and technology; data; robotics and automation; and packaging.

Food retailers across the globe are rapidly expanding their pick-up and delivery services in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and several are following US giant Amazon in trialling drones.

For example, Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer that owns Asda in the UK, said this week it is running a project for delivery of grocery and household products viadrones, along with end-to-end delivery firm Flytrex (see UAMN article).

Tesco’s Innovation Director, Claire Lorains, said the trial is to focus on the delivering of only a few grocery items, such as forgotten recipe items, with deliveries made within 30 minutes to an hour of an order.

She commented, “We’re really interested to see how drones could become part of the on-demand small baskets delivery solution.” This particular UK market is forecast to exceed UKP10 billion over the coming years.

She continued, “If our trial with Manna is successful, we believe there is an opportunity to reach many more customers through our stores by using a drones service.”

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