The country's biggest retailer is going big in the Lone Star State. Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart announced Tuesday that it plans to build a 1.5-million-square-foot automated fulfillment center and a 730,000-square-foot grocery distribution center, Walmart's biggest yet, in the Dallas suburb of Lancaster, Texas.
The two new facilities, expected to open in 2023 and 2024, respectively, are part of Walmart's broader plan to "double down on the use of automation technology" throughout the company's supply chain, Walmart said in a news release. "The facilities will play a critical role in Walmart’s supply chain to deliver on the retailer’s promise to get customers the items they want when they want them," Walmart's news release stated.
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Last month, Walmart detailed plans to build a 720,000-square-foot high-tech grocery distribution center in South Carolina's Spartanburg County. That facility, a $450 million project, also is slated to debut in 2024; the two new advanced-automation distribution centers are expected to move two times more product than a traditional grocery distribution center.
In Texas, the two new facilities will create approximately 1,000 full-time jobs, 40% of which will require STEM skills, according to Walmart. "We are making a significant investment in this region because of the inclusive, diverse and qualified pipeline of local talent that reflect Walmart's values," Karissa Sprague, Walmart U.S. SVP of supply-chain HR, said in the news release. "Our investment in technologies and high-tech facilities today pave the way for jobs of the future that are supported by automation and will allow opportunities for an upskilled workforce," she added. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Lancaster's population to be 70% African American and 18% Hispanic or Latino in 2019.
Joe Metzger, Walmart U.S. EVP of supply-chain operations, said Lancaster's new fulfillment center and distribution center will feature "game-changing innovations that are radically disrupting the supply chain, getting products onto store shelves and items shipped to our customers even faster, while saving time for our associates."
Walmart's investments in these middle-mile and last-mile sprints have been many and varied in the past three years, with the company teaming up with drone services providers, autonomous-vehicle specialists and more in pursuit of speedier, cost-efficient options for moving products. On Monday, Walmart noted that the self-driving trucks it has trialed for middle-mile deliveries in Bentonville, Ark., have gone fully driverless, and earlier this fall, the company said it expects to begin using autonomous vehicles for home deliveries in three U.S. cities by year's end.
The Lancaster facilities will be among Walmart's largest supply-chain centers companywide, the retailer noted. Texas is home to more Walmart stores than any other state: Walmart Inc. currently operates 19 distribution centers and 593 retail stores in the state and employs more than 171,000 people there.