In its latest move to further establish itself as a technology leader in both its home state of Texas and the digital retail space, H-E-B has revealed plans to build an 81,000-square-foot technology facility and innovation lab in Austin for its expanding digital team and its on-demand delivery service, Favor.
In announcing the long-term lease for the east Austin tech hub slated for completion in spring 2019, Jag Bath, H-E-B’s chief digital officer and CEO and president of wholly-owned subsidiary Favor, said the recently renovated industrial warehouse will be transformed “into a creative and collaborative workspace” for the retailer’s Austin-based digital team and Favor’s corporate headquarters. “This state-of-the-art space will be a hub for creativity and innovation as we continue to develop the ultimate digital experience for our customers,” Bath said in a statement. “Bringing H-E-B and Favor closer together will allow us to promote collaboration between our two companies as we strengthen our commitment to building out H-E-B’s omnichannel services.”
Food industry analyst and WGB contributing editor Phil Lempert is among the industry observers who’ve been both impressed and inspired by H-E-B’s rapid enhancement of its digital offerings in the past year, “with the best yet to come. The H-E-B and Favor initiative is one that transcends the mere acquisition of the delivery company,” said Lempert. “This new effort is designed to attract new talent and imagine the consumer experience of the future, in-store, online and at home.”
H-E-B tapped global architecture firm IA Interior Architects to design the fully customized, two-story facility, which is conveniently within walking distance to several restaurants, breweries, coffee shops and the 7th Street H-E-B store.
Already the largest privately-held employer in the Lone Star state, H-E-B’s and Favor’s new Austin tech hub will add several hundred jobs to the local economy from a cross section of professional areas of expertise, such as product management, product design and software engineering.
H-E-B’s forthcoming tech facility and innovation lab follows a series of strategic investments undertaken by the San Antonio-based retailer in the past year, foremost to which is its acquisition of Favor and the arrival of Bath, as well as the recent addition of Mike Georgoff as chief product officer for H-E-B’s digital operations. The retailer is also investing in ongoing enhancements and expansion of its digital offerings, including H-E-B Delivery and H-E-B Curbside service, which are available in 145 locations and on track to reach 165 stores in 2018.