The Kroger Co. has officially opened its Ocado-automated customer fulfillment center (CFC) in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., to fill online grocery orders.
Cincinnati-based Kroger said yesterday that the nearly 340,000-square-foot CFC, had announced in November 2019, will provide Kroger Delivery e-grocery service to customers in Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. The company had said last week that the facility initiated operations when it announced plans for a nearly 300,000-square-foot CFC in Aurora, Colo., serving the Denver area.
“We are thrilled to launch Kroger Delivery in Pleasant Prairie, continuing our long-standing engagement in the state of Wisconsin. Our tradition of fresh is all about our customers, and this true milestone moment incorporates end-to-end cold solutions, including customized refrigerated vans, providing Kenosha County residents with everything fresh, every time,” Gabriel Arreaga, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer at Kroger, said in a statement. “Through the incredible relationships with several local departments including Kenosha County and the Village of Pleasant Prairie, this collaboration was key to success that will bring nearly 250 jobs to the 336,840-square-foot, high-tech fulfillment center and will enable us to expand our delivery services to new areas in the region in need of our best-in-class service.”
When unveiling their partnership in May 2018, Kroger and United Kingdom-based Ocado Group said they aimed to open 20 CFCs in the United States over the next three years. The Ocado CFCs and supporting facilities use vertical integration, machine learning and robotics to service online grocery orders and are expected to extend Kroger’s reach to a larger geographic footprint, including areas where it doesn’t operate brick-and-mortar stores.
Thus far, Kroger has announced 17 Ocado-driven CFCs, with five now operational. Besides the Pleasant Prairie location, they include a CFC in Monroe, Ohio — Kroger's first Ocado facility — that went live in April 2021; 375,000-square-foot CFCs that opened in Groveland, Fla., last June and in Forest Park, Ga., this past February; and 350,000-square-foot CFC that launched in Dallas this spring. In early March, Kroger said it plans to construct a 270,000-square-foot, “Cleveland region” CFC that will serve areas in northeastern Ohio and Pennsylvania, with the latter representing the grocer’s 37th state.
Other Ocado CFCs reported by Kroger run from 135,000 to 375,000 square feet and include locations in Frederick, Md.; Phoenix; and Romulus, Mich., as well as Charlotte, N.C., the Pacific Northwest; and the Northeast, the latter representing another location where Kroger lacks stores, along with Pennsylvania and Florida (save for a Harris Teeter store in the Jacksonville area). The retailer also has announced plans for two CFCs in Southern California and two more in Florida.
Kroger and Ocado also have announced 10 supporting “spoke” facilities, which serve as last-mile, cross-dock sites to enlarge the service radius of CFCs. Five spokes are now live — in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla.; Lockbourne, Ohio; and in Indianapolis — and another five are planned for Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; and Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and Birmingham, Ala.
“Through our growing partnership, we are helping Kroger Delivery to introduce a world-leading online grocery proposition to their customers across the USA,” stated Luke Jensen, CEO of Ocado Solutions, which has its U.S. headquarters in Tyson, Va. “Enabled by Ocado Group's unique, cutting-edge technology, this fulfillment center will introduce a step change in the kind of service and efficiency that shoppers across Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwest Indiana can expect from grocery e-commerce.”