Kroger announced today that Monroe is its choice for America’s first automated warehouse.
The $55 million robot-powered project, Kroger’s first customer fulfillment center, is expected to generate at least 410 new jobs.
Known as a “shed,” the 335,000-square-foot facility with digital and robotic capabilities will be designed by British online grocer Ocado. Its construction in Monroe is subject to securing state and local incentives, according to the company.
Kroger officials are “incredibly excited” to partner with Ocado to transform the industry and deliver on the company’s Restock Kroger vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift, according to Kroger CEO and Chairman Rodney McMullen.
“Kroger is joining with the best partners in the world to co-innovate and leverage technology to redefine the customer experience,” McMullen said in a statement. “This Kroger shed, powered by Ocado, will accelerate our ability to provide customers with anything, anytime and anywhere.”
Monroe officials declined to provide comment to the Journal-News on the project because it is still pending.
Rick Pearce, president and CEO of the Chamber Serving Middletown, Monroe & Trenton, said chamber officials are "very excited" about the opportunity for the area to be the potential new home of the next generation automated warehouse.
"This is a great opportunity for our region not only from a jobs standpoint but also for workforce development," Pearce said. "Imagine for a moment, introducing our young area students to this new technology and being able to build upon that skill set for future careers. I can see a great deal of students being excited about the integration between logistics, robotics and technology."
Kroger plans to open 20 customer fulfillment centers — or CFCs — to support what it referred to as its “seamless vision.”
The CFC will introduce innovative robotics technology, allowing for next-generation automated storage and retrieval, company officials said today.
“We and our partners at REDI Cincinnati are excited Kroger has chosen Ohio for its first customer fulfillment center in the United States,” said Dana Saucier, vice president and head of economic development for JobsOhio, adding that the cutting-edge facility “will serve as a national model as Kroger continues its focus on the evolving preferences of its customers throughout the country.”
Kimm Lauterbach, president and CEO of Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Cincinnati, said REDI, JobsOhio’s regional partner for Southwest Ohio, is excited to support Kroger’s growth in Monroe.
“With its latest investment in the region, Kroger continues to be both an innovative leader in consumer goods and an essential part of Greater Cincinnati’s growth,” Lauterbach said.
McMullen said Kroger is committed to helping position Cincinnati and Ohio as a destination for digital and technology talent.
“We are proud to choose our HQ state of Ohio as the first location for this first-of-its-kind customer fulfillment center in the U.S.,” McMullen said, thanking Ohio Gov. John Kasich, JobsOhio and REDI for enabling Kroger’s $55 million capital investment and the expected creation of 410 new Ohio jobs.
UK-based Ocado is one of the world’s largest dedicated online grocery retailers, operating its own grocery and general merchandise retail businesses under Ocado.com and other specialist shop banners, together with its Solutions division.
It has global ties and advanced digital and robotic capabilities.
Earlier this year, Kroger and Ocado announced an alliance to bring to the U.S. Ocado’s unparalleled innovation and technologies. In October, the companies signed a master services agreement to further solidify their partnership.
“Working together, we will develop the strongest possible supply network to support a seamless customer experience that can serve every person in America,” said Alex Tosolini, Kroger’s senior vice president of new business development. “It’s all about building a seamless supply chain to provide our customers with an amazing shopping experience.”