In a $420 million, five-year project, Canadian food and drug retailer Metro Inc. plans to build an automated distribution center for fresh and frozen products and enlarge an existing produce and dairy DC.
Metro said the new fresh/frozen facility in Terrebonne, Quebec, just north of Montreal, is slated to open in 2023. Plans call for the expansion of the produce/dairy facility, located in Laval, Quebec, to be completed in 2024.
"Our new distribution center of more than 600,000 square feet in Terrebonne will feature state-of-the-art technologies, allowing us to make significant efficiency gains. We will improve service to our store network with increased accuracy and reduced handling time, in both the distribution centers and the stores,” President and CEO Eric La Flèche said in a statement. “For consumers, these new facilities will result in even more variety and freshness. We will be in an excellent position to pursue our growth in Quebec.”
Employees in Metro’s current meat and frozen food DC in Montreal North and fish and seafood DC in Rivière-des-Prairies/Pointe-aux-Trembles will be transferred to the new facility in Terrebonne, according to Metro. With the 50,000-square-foot expansion, the Laval produce and dairy products DC will be able to handle a larger volume of fruit and vegetables, and dairy products will then be distributed from the new Terrebonne facility.
Metro noted that projected volume growth, along with the integration of volume currently distributed by third parties, will allow the company to maintain stable employment levels in Quebec. In addition, the company said it will work with its employees and the unions to facilitate the transition, including the implementation of the required training programs.
For the DC projects, Metro is working with food distribution automation specialist Witron, which already is a partner with Metro on similar distribution facilities under construction in Ontario.
“This $420 million investment in Quebec is in addition to the $400 million investment in Ontario announced in October 2017 for the modernization of our Toronto distribution centers,” La Flèche added. “We are investing in order to remain at the forefront and better meet the expectations of our customers and our merchants, now and in the future.”
Along with its distribution and manufacturing businesses, Montreal-based Metro operates or serves a network of about 950 food stores under the Metro, Metro Plus, Super C, Food Basics and other banners as well as 650 drugstores mainly under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Food Basics Pharmacy banners in Quebec and Ontario.