Walmart Canada plans food distribution hub

U.S. retail giant Walmart’s expansion into the western Canadian grocery market will be supported by what it calls one of the largest perishable-food distribution facilities in Canada.

Walmart Canada announced Friday that it will start work immediately on a $115 million, 400,000-square foot distribution centre at Balzac, Alta., just north of Calgary.

The centre, which the company said will be “among the largest refrigerated buildings in Canada” is to serve as the hub for distribution of fresh foods destined for Walmarts in Western Canada.

“This will support the expansion of Walmart’s modern Supercentre format, which adds a complete range of groceries to its traditional general merchandise selection, as well as its commitment to being a leader on environmental sustainability,” the company said in a release.

“Even in tough times, we continue to invest in our communities and in our business,” said Andy Ellis, the Canadian wing’s senior vice-president for supply chain and logistics.

“This distribution centre provides us a state-of-the-art facility, custom made to deliver the freshest products available for our Walmart customers all across the West.”

Walmart Canada said Friday it’s so far invested $220 million in the past year to modernize and expand its distribution network, which employs about 3,200 people to supply its 312 stores and Supercentres nationwide from four distribution facilities at Calgary (including the Balzac site), one site at Cornwall, Ont. and three at Mississauga.

The company said its model for the Balzac site will be its new 450,000-square foot facility at Mississauga.

The distribution centre will open in late 2010, will be operated by Canadian logistics firm Centric Retail Logistics, and is expected to employ about 600 people.

The centre’s features, geared toward environmentally sustainable operation, are to include recycling of all varieties of shipping materials; salvaging of food waste; automated shrink wrapping machines to minimize waste; chemical-free water treatment of process water, to allow grey waste water to be used for site irrigation; a white roof to reflect sunlight and reduce cooling needs; demand-response systems to reduce peak-load energy; and high-density storage to minimize heat loss.

 

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