After first announcing plans for an automated grocery and home-delivery facility in Pleasant Prairie in November of 2019, Kroger Co.’s new fulfillment center officially opened this week.
The facility, located at 9091 88th Ave., was developed through a partnership with U.K.-based online supermarket company Ocado Group. The center uses advanced robotics technology to fulfill orders made by Kroger customers.
"Through the incredible relationships with several local departments including Kenosha County and Village of Pleasant Prairie, this collaboration was key to success that will bring nearly 250 jobs to the 336,840 square-foot high-tech fulfillment center and will enable us to expand our delivery services to new areas in the region in need of our best-in-class service,” said Gabriel Arreaga, Kroger's senior vice president and chief supply chain officer.
The new Pleasant Prairie facility could employ up to 700 people in about five years. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is supporting the project with up to $1.5 million in state tax credits to the Kroger Fulfillment Network and up to $500,000 in tax credits to Ocado Solutions.
This expansion represents an extension of a partnership between Kroger and Ocado. In 2018, the companies announced a collaboration to establish a delivery network that combines artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and automation.
The delivery network relies on highly automated fulfillment centers. At the hub sites, more than 1,000 robots move around giant 3D grids. The grid, known as The Hive, contains totes with products and ready-to-deliver customer orders. As customers' orders near delivery times, the bots pick up products from The Hive which are then taken to pick stations to be sorted for delivery.
"Through our growing partnership, we are helping Kroger Delivery to introduce a world-leading online grocery proposition to their customers across the USA,” said Luke Jensen, CEO of Ocado Solutions. “Enabled by Ocado Group's unique, cutting-edge technology, this fulfillment center will introduce a step change in the kind of service and efficiency that shoppers across Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and northwest Indiana can expect from grocery ecommerce.”