Kroger unveils grocery strategy for Florida

Gina Acosta
Managing Editor
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Kroger expects to employ more than 400 people in the 375,000-sq.-ft. facility, which is scheduled to break ground later this year and open in 2021.

Kroger is planting its first major flag in Florida by building a new fulfillment center that seeks to "redefine the customer experience across America."

America's largest grocery retailer, and Ocado, one of the world's largest dedicated online grocery retailers, announced that they will build a Customer Fulfillment Center in Groveland, Fla., about halfway between Orlando and Tampa.

This would be The Kroger Co.'s first fulfillment center in Florida, where it currently operates no Kroger stores. The company does operate a Harris Teeter store in the Jacksonville, Fla., area and the company has a stake in Lucky's Market, which has been expanding its footprint across the state.

"Kroger is incredibly excited to construct one of our industry-leading Customer Fulfillment Centers (CFC) in Groveland, Florida—a city west of Orlando—through our relationship with Ocado," said Alex Tosolini, Kroger's senior vice president of new business development. "Through our strategic partnership, we are leveraging advanced robotics technology and creative solutions to redefine the customer experience across America."

Kroger's announcement would appear to be an acceleration of the company's strategy to offer all U.S. consumers, even consumers who don't live anywhere near a Kroger store, "anything, anytime and anywhere." A fulfillment center in Florida would appear to set up the possibility of Floridians being able to shop for groceries, including the retailer's award-winning and highly successful private brands.

Kroger has committed to building 20 CFCs, powered by Ocado. The CFC model – an automated warehouse facility with digital and robotic capabilities, also known as a "shed" – will be replicated to serve customers across America. Last month, the retailer announced plans to build two additional CFCs in Central Florida and Mid-Atlantic. America's first CFC will be constructed in Monroe, OH, a suburb north of Cincinnati.

"The City of Groveland welcomes Kroger and Ocado," said Mayor Evelyn Wilson. "We see it as another component to our overall community development and it demonstrates the City's commitment to foster quality jobs and provide exceptional livability." 

The Groveland CFC will be located at U.S. Highway 27 and American Way and occupy 375,000 square feet. The CFC is scheduled to break ground later this year and be operational in 2021.