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H-E-B to build new tech innovation lab

‘World-class’ facility to help power retailer’s digital strategy

H-E-B plans to build a two-story, 81,000-square-foot technology facility and innovation lab for its digital team and Favor on-demand delivery service.

The Texas supermarket chain said yesterday that it has signed a long-term lease for a building at 2416 East Sixth St. in East Austin. Plans call for the recently renovated industrial warehouse to be transformed into a “world-class” creative and collaborative workspace for Austin-based members of the H-E-B digital team and Favor’s corporate headquarters, according to the company.

H-E-B has retained global architecture firm IA Interior Architects to customize the space and HPI Corporate Services as its tenant broker. The project is expected to be completed next spring.

“This state-of-the-art space will be a hub for creativity and innovation as we continue to develop the ultimate digital experience for our customers,” H-E-B Chief Digital Officer Jag Bath said in a statement.

“Bringing H-E-B and Favor closer together will allow us to promote collaboration between our two companies as we strengthen our commitment to building out H-E-B’s omnichannel services,” noted Bath, who also is president and chief executive officer of Favor.

The East Austin property is within walking distance to an H-E-B store on 7th Street as well as amenities such as restaurants, breweries and coffee shops. With the expanded Austin footprint, H-E-B and Favor aim to add several hundred jobs to the local economy and have begun hiring across all areas of expertise, including product management, product design and software engineering, the company said.

H-E-B added that it has established a strong technology and digital presence at its corporate headquarters in San Antonio and will continue to expand its digital team in both cities.

In support of its efforts to become a digital leader in the grocery arena, H-E-B acquired the Austin-based Favor delivery service in mid-February and then two months later named Bath as chief digital officer of H-E-B.

Earlier this month, H-E-B hired Mike Georgoff as chief product officer for its digital team. Georgoff, who reports to Bath, is charged with spurring H-E-B’s omnichannel growth and leading digital product strategy, design and development.

Meanwhile, H-E-B has steadily extended its online grocery reach via H-E-B Delivery and H-E-B Curbside service, now offered at more than 145 stores in Texas and slated to become available at 165 stores this year. Overall, the company operates 400 stores in Texas and Mexico.

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