Kroger to close 3 e-commerce facilities

By: Trademagazin editor Date: 2024. 04. 02. 09:42

The grocer said it will shutter one spoke warehouse in South Florida and two others in Texas in late May.

Kroger’s decision to close delivery facilities in two key states represents a notable setback for a company that is looking to take a leading position in home delivery service.

In Florida, the grocer has faced the daunting task of generating online sales in a state where it operates just one Harris Teeter store. The company opened its massive customer fulfillment center in Groveland in 2021 and then debuted its 60,000-square-foot spoke facility in Opa-locka in 2022. Kroger also operates spoke delivery facilities in Jacksonville and Tampa.

Kroger’s push into the Sunshine State was accompanied by a strong promotional effort by the grocer, including the launch of its e-commerce membership program, Boost. But the state is a stronghold for Publix, which operates more than 860 stores in Florida, and Walmart, which runs more than 230 supercenters and nearly 100 Neighborhood Markets.

The upcoming closure of the three spokes does not impact Kroger and Ocado’s other automated fulfillment centers or spoke facilities, Martin said.

In Texas, Kroger has the advantage of operating stores in some of the state’s major markets. But there, too, it has faced competition from entrenched competitors, including Walmart and regional powerhouse H-E-B. Kroger began making deliveries from its Dallas hub in summer 2022, then opened its San Antonio spoke facility in August 2022. Last February, it opened the spoke facility in Austin.

Announced in 2018, Kroger’s e-commerce partnership with British tech firm Ocado entails building a network of automated e-commerce facilities across the U.S. to power the grocer’s proprietary delivery service. The tie-up saw impressive growth early on thanks to sky-high online demand driven by the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. As consumers have returned to in-store shopping, however, e-commerce sales growth has moderated and grocers like Ahold Delhaize have scaled back their online operations.

The massive project has shown signs of strain in recent months. In September, Kroger executives said the company was pausing its rollout of new fulfillment centers so that it could prioritize operations at existing facilities.

“Despite our best efforts, including the support from new customers, learnings from other locations and the incredible work of our associates, the Miami, Florida, San Antonio, Texas and Austin, Texas facilities did not meet the benchmarks we set for success,”  Kroger spokesperson April Martin said in an emailed statement.

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