Retailers

H-E-B Embarks on $200 Million Expansion

Sets its sights on sizzling south Austin market
Photograph courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B is targeting south Austin, Texas, for a major expansion that includes $200 million in investment and more than 1,000 new jobs, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The San Antonio-based grocer’s plans also include the opening of three previously announced new stores and a major remodel of an existing location.

“This level of investment has been years in the making,” Jeff Thomas, VP and GM of the central Texas region for H-E-B, told the Austin American-Statesman. “With the growth the city is experiencing and the opportunities for us to be part of that growth, we made the decision to invest aggressively.”

H-E-B, which operates about two-dozen stores in the Austin area, is estimated to control about 60% of the city’s grocery market, outpacing mega-retailer Walmart, which typically ranks No. 1.

At a time when a growing number of U.S. retailers, including Target, Meijer and Hy-Vee, are rolling out small-format stores, H-E-B is ramping up its expansion of spacious (100,000 square feet or more), experiential shopping destinations.

As part of its south Austin expansion, a new 130,000-square-foot store at Slaughter Lane and Interstate 35 is scheduled to open March 27, while an existing store at South Congress Avenue and Oltorf Street will be demolished March 22 to make way for a 130,000-square-foot multilevel store with underground parking.

The South Congress store, slated to open in 2022, will be a flagship site featuring the grocer’s next-generation technology and innovation, Thomas told the Austin American-Statesman.

“It will be a showplace for the company that will have all the newest edges and advances,” Thomas said. “When it’s done, people from all over the country—and the world—will want to come see this store.”

Technology is another major focus for this company on the move. In June 2019, H-E-B furthered its goal to become the digital industry leader in Texas, with the opening of its Eastside Tech Hub, a state-of-the-art office for H-E-B Digital Partners, as well as the new headquarters for on-demand delivery company Favor, a wholly owned subsidiary of H-E-B.

With its focus on digital dominance, H-E-B is expanding Curbside pickup, home delivery and self-checkouts chainwide.

For example, its one-stop, 102,000-square-foot H-E-B Harper’s Trace store in Conroe, Texas, which opened Dec. 4, offers Curbside pickup and home delivery through Favor, Shipt and Instacart.

Like many of H-E-B’s new and remodeled stores, the Harper’s Trace store  at 10200 Highway 242 also features True Texas BBQ; an expansive selection of Texas-made products; a fully stocked Healthy Living department; fresh seafood and meat markets; a full-service scratch bakery and tortilleria; a cheese department boasting more than 350 local and imported cheeses; more than 2,100 bottles of wine and 350 beers; and a storewide focus on healthy eating on a budget.

Some stores, such as the new Harper’s Trace, also offer the new H-E-B Fuel Station and Car Wash, as well as an in-store pharmacy with drive-thru.

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