The formal opening of an Ocado-automated “spoke” facility in Oklahoma City has extended The Kroger Co.’s reach to 36 states, now including Oklahoma.
Cincinnati-based Kroger said Monday that the 50,000-square-foot spoke site, at 8801 North I-35 Service Rd. in Oklahoma City, recently hosted an associate celebration and ribbon-cutting event. Announced in February, the new facility supports a 350,000-square-foot, Ocado-driven customer fulfillment center (CFC) in Dallas at the corner of 4200 Cleveland Rd. and 4241 Telephone Rd., that opened this past summer.
The Oklahoma City spoke employs approximately 190 full-time associates and serves as a last-mile, cross-docking location, extending the reach of Kroger Delivery service from the Dallas “hub” CFC to customers up to 200 miles away, according to Kroger. Announced in September 2019, the CFC in Dallas began making its first deliveries in a soft launch this past spring.
Also on Monday, Kroger said a 67,000-square-foot spoke in northeast San Antonio recently held its grand opening. That site, announced in March, employees more than 160 full-time associates and along with the Oklahoma City spoke supports the CFC hub in Dallas.
“We are committed to delivering a fresh, convenient customer shopping experience with zero compromise on quality, selection and affordability,” Bill Bennett, vice president and head of e-commerce at Kroger, said in a statement. “From the personalized shopping experience, easy digital coupons, valuable fuel points and fresh, high-quality products, to the refrigerated trucks, trained and uniformed drivers, we look forward to Oklahoma City and San Antonio customers enjoying all the benefits Kroger online shopping has to offer.”
Most recently, Kroger had opened a 50,000-square-foot spoke in Birmingham, Ala., in September to support its Ocado-powered CFC in Forest Park, Ga. The 375,000-square-foot hub, which officially opened in February after a soft launch in December, serves the Atlanta market.
Overall, Kroger has announced 12 Ocado-automated spokes of 40,000 to 80,000 square feet. Besides the Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Birmingham sites, spoke facilities are now operational in Nashville, Tenn., and Maywood, Ill.; Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla.; Lockbourne, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Louisville, Ky. Another spoke is slated to open in Austin, Texas.
In May 2018, Kroger unveiled an exclusive U.S. partnership with U.K.-based online grocery specialist Ocado to identify sites for about 20 automated CFCs over the ensuing three years. The high-tech CFCs use Ocado’s vertical integration, machine learning and robotics to fill e-grocery delivery orders and extend Kroger’s reach to a larger geographic footprint, including areas where it doesn’t operate physical stores.
Thus far, Kroger has announced 17 CFCs — ranging from 135,000 to 375,000 square feet — and six are now open. Kroger opened its first Ocado CFC, a 375,000-square-foot automated warehouse, in April 2021 in Monroe, Ohio. That was followed by 375,000-square-foot CFCs in Groveland, Fla., in June 2021 and in Forest Park, Ga., this past February and a 340,000-square-foot CFC in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., in June. Most recently, CFCs of 135,000 and 350,000 square feet went operational in Romulus, Mich., and Dallas, respectively. The Groveland location marked the first CFC opening in a state where Kroger generally doesn’t operate physical stores, save for one Harris Teeter store in Jacksonville, Fla.