Ecommerce / Robotics

Kroger is bringing a robot-powered grocery fulfillment center to Maryland

The chain is teaming with online grocery retailer Ocado to set up an automated warehouse in Frederick, Maryland. The hub will serve Mid-Atlantic cities, including D.C.

Kroger and Ocado's automated grocery warehouse will serve ecommerce operations. (Photo courtesy of PRNewsfoto/The Kroger Co.)

An automated grocery fulfillment warehouse that will serve the Mid-Atlantic region is coming to Frederick, officials said Thursday.

National grocery store chain Kroger is teaming with online grocery retailer Ocado to open the center in a previously vacant warehouse at 7106 Geoffery Way. A groundbreaking or opening date wasn’t immediately announced. Officials said it would open two years after breaking ground.

“Kroger is incredibly excited to construct one of our industry-leading Customer Fulfillment Centers in Maryland in relationship with Ocado to bring fresh food to our customers faster than ever before,” said Robert Clark, Kroger’s senior VP of supply chain, manufacturing and sourcing, in a statement. “Through our strategic partnership, we are engineering a model for the region, leveraging advanced robotics technology and creative solutions to redefine the customer experience.”

The 350,000-square-foot customer fulfillment center, which the companies called a “shed,” will draw on digital and robotic capabilities as the companies seek to get products to customers who ordered via ecommerce. Robots will move along a grid system and select crates that are later assembled into orders.

The center will serve as a hub for markets including Baltimore, D.C. and Philly. In June, Bloomberg reported that the companies were planning as many as 20 fulfillment centers in the U.S. as Kroger looked to expand its online shopping operations.

Kroger operates nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states. For its part, Ocado is a nearly 20-year-old company that was founded in the U.K., where it has 721,000 active customers.

The center will create 400 jobs upon opening, and 100 more as it ramps up. According to info from Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, the County worked with the companies to fast-track the project and sought to provide a smooth process for permits, water and sewer.

Public funds will assist with project costs, officials said, and doubtless helped attract the companies to Maryland. The Maryland Department of Commerce is providing a $2 million loan through the Advantage Maryland fund. Frederick County is providing up to $150,000 in permit fees. The project is also eligible for $5 million in county commercial and industrial tax credits over the next decade, as well as state tax credits.

“We are thrilled that these two respected companies have chosen Maryland as the location for a new high-tech, innovative Mid-Atlantic hub,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement, adding that it’s a “big win” for Frederick County.


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