Ocado has broken ground on the first of 20 high-tech automated warehouses it plans to build in the US as part of its tie-up with Kroger.
The pair have begun work on the 335,000sq ft Ohio facility, in what the US grocery giant is calling a “meaningful milestone”.
Due to be fully operational by 2021, the $55 million (£43.38 million) facility will employ Ocado’s signature automated robotic systems while creating 400 jobs in the area.
This comes after Kroger and Ocado announced their three-year partnership in May last year, announcing that they expect to start construction on another 375,000sq ft site in Groveland later this year, with a further centre planned for the Mid-Atlantic.
Last year Kroger saw digital sales jump 58 per cent as it expanded its online grocery delivery service to 91 per cent of households in its trade areas.
“Kroger is incredibly excited to reach this meaningful milestone in our Restock Kroger vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift,” Kroger chairman and chief executive Rodney McMullen said.
“Our partnership with Ocado will introduce transformative e-commerce, fulfillment and logistics technology in the U.S. and bring customers fresher food faster than ever before, accelerating our ability to provide anything, anytime, anywhere.”
Ocado’s Luke Jensen added: “This is a historic moment for our partnership. With construction starting for Kroger’s first customer fulfillment center in the Cincinnati region, we are now well on the way to a nationwide revolution in how Kroger customers experience ecommerce.
“In a fast-developing landscape for grocery retail, Kroger’s determination to continue delivering the best experience for its customers, online as in stores, is unparalleled.
“I am excited that we will shortly bring the world-class innovation of the Ocado Smart Platform to their operations, as well as create exciting opportunities for engineers and technologists across the country to work with Ocado’s cutting-edge robotics and automation.”