Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) says it plans to build a new state-of-the art distribution hub in Hernando, Mississippi, subject to incentive approval. The new facility will be completed in 2023 and will feature automation technology and an evolved organizational infrastructure designed to enable long-term, sustainable growth and success for its retail members.
It also will help AWG and the region continue to attract, develop and retain an engaged and high-performing workforce, company officials said.
After a comprehensive review of the company’s growth trajectory and evaluating existing facilities’ capabilities and sustainability, AWG determined a unique, all-in-one facility will better meet its future needs and those of its members and employees.
“Our industry is ever-changing, and it is our mission to provide our member-retailers all of the products, services and tools they need to compete favorably in all markets served, all at the best possible cost,” said AWG CEO David Smith. “This new facility has capabilities that check all of those boxes. We are excited to be able to significantly expand what we stock and ship to our member stores while becoming more efficient and cost effective in our operations. This new facility will be a critical component in our plan to build a safer, better and more efficient supply chain. In addition to becoming the primary supply source for the region, we will also leverage this new operation as an expanded variety source to all of our facilities and member stores. This will create more value throughout the supply chain for AWG and our members.”
AWG partnered with WITRON—a worldwide market leader in the design and realization of highly dynamic food warehouse automation and order picking systems. The WITRON system is integrated into every area of the new facility—the handling of case and pallet goods, ambient temperature, refrigerated perishables and frozen foods, as well as the handling of individual unit products. This will increase through-put of products, increase efficiencies, improve accuracy and reduce loss due to damaged goods. This in turn will allow AWG and member stores to realize savings across transportation, inventory management, as well as experience enhanced pick accuracy and lower salvage rates. All of this will result in cost savings for AWG members while still maximizing the integrity and safety of the food supply chain.
As teams finalize the incentives in coordination with local and state leaders and complete due diligence on the land acquisition, plans are underway for the construction of the facility. When these items are finalized and the land is acquired, teams will begin work on the site.
The new facility is scheduled to be operational in 2023 and will initially employ approximately 590 workers. As part of the facility alignment process, operations from two existing distribution centers in the area—VMC Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee) and AWG Memphis Division (Southaven, Mississippi)—will eventually be consolidated into the new facility.
Regarding the selection of the state of Mississippi for the new facility, Smith said, “In our process, we looked at the adjacent states in the region and found that Mississippi has just what we need. They have a great site, the critical infrastructure, very supportive governmental officials and a fantastic workforce poised to grow with us.”
Kansas City, Kansas-based AWG is the nation’s largest cooperative food wholesaler to independently owned supermarkets, serving more than 1,100 member companies and more than 3,000 locations throughout 28 states from eight full-line wholesale divisions.