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In 2016, Kroger made a ninja entry into Florida, after years of trying to break hometown hero Publix’ stranglehold on the Sunshine State. The nation’s largest supermarket chain, Kroger has for years tried to set up shop in Florida. Lakeland, FL-based Publix has held firm. So in 2016 Kroger started doing business in Florida with an investment in the Colorado-based Lucky’s Market chain, which focuses on organic fare.

Lucky’s expanded into Florida in 2016; Kroger Co. made a large investment in Lucky’s Market in 2016. This investment has allowed the chain to accelerate the rate of store opening. The chain currently operates 37 stores in 10 states and plans to open 50 stores in Florida by 2020.

But now Kroger has plans to give Floridians a chance to shop for its products without ever setting foot in a store, with a new automated fulfillment location announced in the state as part of a 20-warehouse robotic network it plans.

Kroger and Ocado, one of the world’s largest dedicated online grocery retailers, recently announced Central Florida and Mid-Atlantic as the newly-named regions for America’s next two customer fulfillment centers (CFC).

In November, the chain announced the first CFC would be built in Monroe, OH, near its home base of Cincinnati.

“Kroger is excited to partner with Ocado—one of the most innovative, advanced companies in the world—to redefine the grocery shopping experience for customers along the East Coast,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “We are incredibly excited to introduce customer fulfillment centers in this region to deliver on our Restock Kroger vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift.”

Kroger has committed to building 20 CFCs, powered by Ocado, to accelerate its ability to provide customers with anything, anytime and anywhere. 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. In November 2018, Kroger announced its first CFC will be constructed in Monroe, OH, a suburb north of Cincinnati.

“Kroger is developing the retail model of the future through our exciting partnership with Ocado, a UK-based company with global ties,” said Alex Tosolini, Kroger’s senior vice president of new business development. “We will co-innovate with Ocado to develop the best possible experiences for our customers, leveraging advanced robotics technology and creative solutions.”

“This announcement marks another important step toward combining Kroger’s long-standing dedication to innovative and world-class grocery services with Ocado’s unique, industry-leading technology,” said Luke Jensen, CEO of Ocado Solutions. “As the U.S. retail landscape continues to change, these CFCs will play a crucial role in helping Kroger offer its customers a superior online shopping experience in these two major markets.”

Ocado Solutions is responsible for corporate partnering, which began with its agreement to operate the online business of Wm Morrison Supermarkets in the UK, and more recently with agreements with Groupe Casino, Sobeys and ICA Group to develop their online businesses in France, Canada and Sweden respectively. The agreement with Kroger to provide it with the OSP suite of products to massively expand its online grocery business in the USA is Ocado Solutions’ largest and most recent partnership transaction.

OSP is an enabling platform provided as a service to retailers. It comprises access to Ocado’s physical infrastructure solutions to run highly efficient warehouse operations for the single pick of products, together with the entire end-to-end proprietary software applications required to operate an online grocery business – from user interfaces, through warehouse operating and control systems, to logistics, route planning and optimization. It is underpinned by Ocado’s expertise and experience as a dedicated online grocery operator in the UK.

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