The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, and Ocado, UK, broke ground on what is said to be the nation’s first customer fulfillment center (CFC).

"Kroger is incredibly excited to reach this meaningful milestone in our Restock Kroger vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift," says Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. “Our partnership with Ocado will introduce transformative ecommerce, 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."

Kroger's first CFC – a 335,000-square-foot automated warehouse facility with digital and robotic capabilities, also known as a shed – is being constructed in Monroe, Ohio. Kroger intends to open 20 CFCs to create a seamless customer experience.

The $55 million project is projected to generate 400 new jobs.

"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 e-commerce," says Luke Jensen, chief executive officer of Ocado Solutions. "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."

"Kroger has selected Ryan Cos. US, Inc. to design and build the shed, with the design of the Ohio facility serving as a model for future projects," says Todd Schell, senior vice president of industrial for Ryan Cos., Minneapolis "We are excited that Ryan will partner with Kroger to design and build this innovative and complex facility to support the company's accelerated growth in grocery e-commerce."

"Kroger is proud to choose our home state of Ohio as the location for the first-of-its-kind customer fulfillment center in America," adds McMullen. "We thank Governor Mike DeWine, JobsOhio, REDI and the Monroe City Council for supporting this project. Kroger is committed to helping position Ohio, Cincinnati and our region as landmarks for innovation, further advancing the area's digital and technology ecosystem."