The Kroger Co. is building up its Florida e-commerce operations to expand online grocery service into the South Florida market.
Cincinnati-based Kroger said Wednesday that it aims to hire more than 200 associates to help support the launch of Kroger Delivery in South Florida this summer. The supermarket giant — which has no physical stores in Florida — currently provides online grocery delivery to the greater Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville areas through a 375,000-square-foot, Ocado-automated customer fulfillment center (CFC) in Groveland, Fla., that went live in June and is supported by “spoke” facilities in Tampa and Jacksonville that extend its service reach.
“We are thrilled about the opportunity to provide fresh food and convenient services to customers throughout South Florida,” Andrea Colby, e-commerce corporate affairs and communications manager at Kroger, said in a statement. “The service combines the efficiency of technology with the experience of our associates to deliver fresh, affordable groceries directly to customers' homes.”
In October, Kroger said it plans to build two small CFCs in South Florida that will join its live e-grocery operations in Central Florida. The new sites will a “Zoom” micro-fulfillment center that will enable Kroger Delivery service in as soon as 30 minutes from a selection of 10,000 fresh food items and essentials, plus a larger facility offering same-day and next-day service from an assortment of 35,000 items, according to Kroger, which didn’t specify the new facilities’ locations or opening timetables.
For the online delivery push into South Florida, Kroger said it’s recruiting drivers and associates in areas such as logistics and human resources.
“We have an ongoing goal to provide customers the highest level of service possible and want to hire individuals who share in our passion for people and fresh food,” commented Peggy McCaslin, human resources manager for Kroger Delivery.
Overall, Kroger has announced 17 CFCs, with three now operational. Besides the Groveland facility outside Orlando, the retailer opened a 375,000-square-foot CFC in Monroe, Ohio — its first Ocado facility — in April 2021 and another 375,000-square-foot CFC in Forest Park, Ga., this past February. In early March, Kroger said it aims 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.; Dallas; Phoenix; Pleasant Prairie, Wis.; and Romulus, Mich., as well as unspecified sites in North Carolina, the Pacific Northwest, the West and the Northeast, the latter representing another location where Kroger lacks stores. The retailer also has announced plans for two CFCs in Southern California and two more in Florida.
So far, Kroger has announced eight Ocado spoke sites. Three spoke facilities are now live — in Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla., and in Indianapolis — and another five are planned for Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; and Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and Birmingham, Ala.
Kroger said early last month that it expects to open 17 new Ocado-driven facilities, including CFC hubs and spokes, within the next 24 months. Each Ocado CFC covers a delivery radius of up to 90 miles, and smaller facilities and spoke locations extend the area served by each CFC.
When unveiling their partnership in May 2018, Kroger and Ocado said they aimed to open 20 CFCs in the United States over the next three years, with Kroger executives citing the potential for facilities in markets where the company doesn’t have stores.