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Kroger to build fourth Ocado warehouse near Atlanta

Facility is one of 20 automated online fulfillment centers planned for U.S.

The Kroger Co. has named Forest Park, Ga., as the fourth location for a high-tech customer fulfillment center (CFC) under its partnership with U.K.-based online grocer Ocado.

Kroger said Thursday that the 375,000-square-foot automated warehouse is scheduled to break ground later this year and become operational in 2021. The site is located at 2000 Anvil Block Rd. in Forest Park’s Gillem Logistics Center, where Kroger already operates a 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center.

"Kroger is incredibly excited to construct one of our industry-leading customer fulfillment centers in Forest Park, a city south of Atlanta, through our relationship with Ocado," Robert Clark, senior vice president of supply chain, manufacturing and sourcing at Cincinnati-based Kroger, said in a statement. "Through our strategic partnership, we are leveraging advanced robotics technology and creative solutions to redefine the customer experience across America."

Photo: The Kroger Co.

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Also called a “shed,” the automated warehouse uses digital and robotic technology to fulfill online grocery orders. When unveiling their partnership in May 2018, Kroger and Ocado said they plan to open 20 CFCs in the United States over the next three years.

"The new facility will provide Kroger the ability to bring customers across the coverage area fresher food faster than ever before," according to Tim Brown, president of Kroger's Atlanta division. "I'm thrilled the Atlanta market was selected as one of the 20 CFC sites, and this location is a tribute to the commitment and enthusiasm Kroger has for the city of Forest Park, Clayton County and state of Georgia."

So far, Kroger has named three CFC locations, including the Forest Park site. The retailer last month broke ground on a 335,000-square-foot CFC in Monroe, Ohio, and in March the company said it expects to break ground for a 375,000-square-foot CFC in Groveland, Fla., later this year. Both facilities are slated to be up and running in 2021.

In February, Kroger also said it plans to build an Ocado automated warehouse in the Mid-Atlantic region, but it hasn’t yet specified a location.

Photo: Gillem Logistics Center

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"Kroger and Ocado's first customer fulfillment center in metro Atlanta will transform the e-commerce experience for customers in the region," said Luke Jensen, CEO of Ocado Solutions. "In a fast-developing landscape for grocery retail, Kroger's determination to continue delivering the best experience for its customers, online as in stores, is unparalleled."

Plans call for the CFC model to be replicated “to serve customers across America,” according to Kroger. A $55 million project, the Forest Park CFC is expected to create more than 400 jobs.

"I am so excited that Kroger and Ocado are bringing this facility to Forest Park," said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. "Georgia has emerged as a hub for technology and innovation, and with access to our unrivaled logistics infrastructure and skilled workforce, I have no doubt that this new distribution center will allow Kroger to carry its operations to new heights."

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