The national grocery chain Kroger announced Friday it will open a customer fulfillment center in northeast San Antonio later this year.

The facility is part of Kroger’s nationwide expansion into grocery e-commerce. It will be one “spoke” in a network of centers in the state connected to a hub facility in Dallas that is scheduled to open this spring, according to a statement by economic development officials at greater:SATX

The 67,000-square-foot facility will provide 160 new jobs in technology, operations, logistics and transportation, inventory and quality management, and customer service and engagement, according to the statement.

It is expected to become operational later this year.

Kroger was founded in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and today owns nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states. With more than $132.5 billion in annual sales, the grocer ranks as one of the world’s largest retailers and second only among grocery chains to Walmart in total revenue. 

Kroger opened stores in San Antonio in 1980 but closed them all by 1993.

The company operates its grocery stores under names such as CityMarket, King Soopers, Harris Teeter and FredMeyer, as well as Kroger. But like many grocers, it is working to capture more of the online grocery sales market, which a study by grocery technology firm Mercatus/Incisiv found could surpass 20% of the overall U.S. grocery market in the next five years.

San Antonio-based grocery chain H-E-B stepped into the digital retail arena in 2018 with the acquisition of on-demand delivery service Favor Delivery.

That same year, Kroger partnered with grocery e-commerce technology firm Ocado to move beyond brick-and-mortar stores and establish a delivery network of its own, combining artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and automation to sack the groceries and drop them at customers’ doors. 

“Kroger today looks very different than it did in 1883 when we opened our first store,” stated Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Kroger. “I’m incredibly excited for the future of Kroger, and both thriving physical stores and digital solutions are part of it.”

Kroger’s delivery network is supported by automated fulfillment centers where robots move through giant grids that contain totes holding products and customer orders set for delivery. 

The system is guided by proprietary air traffic control systems, according to a statement by Kroger. Robots retrieve products from the grid and deliver them to pick stations for items to be sorted for delivery.

Orders are loaded into refrigerated vehicles that may travel up to 90 miles to make deliveries. 

Kroger unveiled its first customer fulfillment center in Monroe, Ohio, in April 2021, followed by centers in Groveland, Florida, and Forest Park, Georgia, near Atlanta.

The San Antonio Kroger center is one of several the grocer is establishing in other cities, including Austin, Birmingham, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and Orlando. 

“We’re proud to welcome Kroger’s e-commerce-focused delivery model into San Antonio,” said Tom Long, managing director for the industrial sector with greater:SATX. “The facility will be part of a high-tech network that serves the region and employs more than 160 people in our community.”  

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.