Sobeys’ parent company, Empire Company Ltd., aims to launch its Voilà online grocery delivery service in a third province, British Columbia, in 2025.
To that end, Empire this week unveiled plans to build an Ocado-automated customer fulfillment center (CFC) in the Greater Vancouver area to fulfill online grocery orders. The Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based company did not specify the location, but said it would lease the facility to Beedie, a third-party industrial developer based in Western Canada, who will construct the site under the Empire specifications.
The UK-based Ocado Group’s platform uses a centralized execution model of large facilities that use a high degree of automation – including vertical integration, machine learning and robotics – to accommodate a wide assortment of products and serve a wide geographic area. For Empire, Ocado’s solution positions each CFC as a “hub” serving stores in the area and supporting facilities processing online orders.
Empire noted that Vancouver’s upcoming CFC will benefit from new Ocado technology which brings more efficiency and a lighter environmental and carbon footprint. For example, robots carrying items for online orders are five times lighter and require less energy and power to achieve the same throughput as the previous generation. Sobeys announced its partnership with Ocado in 2018.
“Ocado’s core fulfillment and home delivery model is proving to be the most efficient on the market while delivering the best customer experience,” said Sarah Joyce, senior vice president of e-commerce at Empire, in a statement. communicated. “Ocado’s recent innovations make it even more efficient and sustainable, both for our business and for the planet. Their commitment to continuous innovation is one of the reasons we decided to partner with them.
The Vancouver CFC is the fourth announced by Empire. Service That’s it launched June 2020 in the Greater Toronto Area, powered by an Ocado CFC in Vaughan, Ontario, which entered service that month. Empire has accelerated its plans to build three more CFCs. They include a second CFC in Pointe-Claire, Montreal, to support the Voilà by IGA home delivery service in Ottawa and cities across Quebec, which is expected to go into service in the spring of 2022. Empire has announced plans to build one two others. CFC in Western Canada, including Calgary, Alberta – which is expected to begin delivering to customers in the first half of calendar 2023 – and now Vancouver.
Currently, the Voilà home delivery service is available in Ontario, in the greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, and in Quebec, in the greater Montreal and Quebec City areas.
“With CFCs in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, we will reach 75% of Canadian households and approximately 90% of e-commerce grocery spending,” according to Joyce. “We strongly believe that centralized fulfillment is the most cost effective solution at scale and that Voilà will be the first online grocery retailer in Canada. »
In fiscal 2021, Empire launched Voilà curbside pickup at 30 stores in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland/Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Alberta, and the service has since expanded to British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Empire added 30 pickup locations during the second quarter of 2022 ended Oct. 30 and plans to add up to 35 additional locations over the remainder of the fiscal year.
Powered by Ocado’s in-store pick solution, the click-and-collect program is designed to serve customers in areas where CFCs do not deliver or are not yet built. The service is now available in 87 Sobeys and Safeway stores in all provinces except Quebec.
Empire’s food retail network, operated through its subsidiary Sobeys, includes more than 1,900 food, drug and convenience stores in all 10 provinces under banners such as Sobeys, Safeway , IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, Farm Boy and Lawtons Drugs.