The Kroger Co. has bolstered its delivery network in South Florida with the opening of an Ocado-automated “spoke” facility in Opa-Locka, Florida.
Kroger said Wednesday that the 60,000-square-foot spoke serves as a last-mile, cross-dock location to extend the reach of a 375,000-square-foot, Ocado-powered customer fulfillment center (CFC) in Groveland, Florida, that began operations in June 2021. The Opa-Locka site, employing 90 new associates, will help fill and deliver online grocery orders for communities between Port St. Lucie in the north to Homestead in the south, including both the east and west sides of Interstate 95, the Cincinnati-based grocer noted.
“We are thrilled to connect more Floridians to the Kroger Delivery shopping experience, which brings thousands of digital coupons, valuable fuel points and the freshest products directly to customers’ doors,” Bill Bennett, vice president and head of e-commerce at Kroger, said in a statement. “Whether they are using the Kroger app or browsing our weekly ad at Kroger.com, customers can enjoy fresh, high-quality, affordable groceries delivered by best-in-class uniformed drivers.”
Overall, Kroger has announced 13 Ocado-driven spokes of 40,000- to 80,000-square-feet, which can expand delivery service of the CFC “hubs” to up to 200 miles. Most recently, the supermarket giant had launched a 50,000-square-foot spoke in Oklahoma City—expanding its reach to 36 states—and a 67,000-square-foot spoke in northeast San Antonio. Both the Oklahoma City and San Antonio facilities support a 350,000-square-foot CFC in Dallas that opened last summer.
Besides the Opa-Locka, Oklahoma City and San Antonio sites, Ocado spokes are now operational in Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; Maywood, Illinois; Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida; Lockbourne, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Louisville, Kentucky. 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 Group 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.
So far, Kroger has announced 17 Ocado CFCs—ranging from 135,000- to 375,000-square-feet—and seven are now open.
Kroger opened its first 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., last February plus a 340,000-square-foot CFC in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, this past June. Most recently, CFCs of 300,000-, 135,000- and 350,000-square-feet went operational in Aurora, Colorado; Romulus, Michigan; and Dallas, respectively. The Groveland location marked the first CFC in a state where Kroger generally doesn’t operate physical stores, save for one Harris Teeter store in Jacksonville, Florida.
Upcoming CFCs, as previously reported by Kroger, include locations in Frederick, Maryland; Phoenix; Charlotte, North Carolina; the Cleveland region; the Pacific Northwest; and the Northeast. The retailer, too, has announced plans for two CFCs in Southern California and two more in Florida.