By Russell Redman
Source: Supermarket News

Under a multibillion-dollar investment announced last summer, Walmart Canada plans to construct a fresh and frozen food distribution center in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Walmart’s Mississauga, Ontario-based Canadian subsidiary said Thursday that the 221,000-square-foot facility, expected to open in the fall of 2022, will mark its first Atlantic Canada DC and supply 43 stores in the region.

The project will bring customers improved product availability and faster service when shopping in stores or online via, Walmart Canada said. Over the last 12 months, the company has procured more than $185 million of products from over 68 Atlantic Canada-based suppliers, including 21 in New Brunswick.

“Today’s investment is exciting news for all our associates, customers and supplier partners as we continue building a Walmart Canada that is the envy of the world,” Horacio Barbeito, president and CEO of Walmart Canada, said in a statement. “We are growing, and we are innovating because our customers deserve the best experience when they choose to shop with us.”

Located at 125 Frenette Ave. in Moncton, the DC site covers 19 acres, and the facility will create more than 200 jobs as part of a $56 million (Canadian) investment in the local economy. Being much closer to stores served, the warehouse will significantly reduce long-haul distances, according to Walmart Canada.

“We’re going to have better availability, and our products will be fresher, which is going to be a game-changer for our local stores and communities,” said Gary Price, director and market leader for New Brunswick at Walmart Canada.

The DC also will feature an Energy Star white reflective roof, energy-efficient LED lighting with integrated motion sensors and intelligent controls, and longer-lasting lithium-ion electric material-handling equipment. In addition, the facility will use natural refrigerants, while waste heat generated from the refrigeration system will be reclaimed and used to supply under-floor heating systems.

“Walmart Canada is delighted to be building our first distribution center in Atlantic Canada in Moncton,” commented John Bayliss, executive vice president and transformation officer at Walmart Canada. “We’re developing a world-class supply chain that prioritizes our customers. The better and stronger the supply chain, the quicker our customers can get the products they want in our stores and online.”

In July, Walmart Canada unveiled a five-year, $3.5 billion investment plan aimed at enhancing its in-store and online shopping experiences and upgrading its distribution. Of that investment, $1.1 billion is earmarked for the construction of a 300,000-square-foot DC now in Surrey, British Columbia, due to open in 2022, and a 550,000-square-foot DC in Vaughan, Ontario, slated to open in 2024. Expected to get up and running this year is a newly automated DC in Cornwall, Ontario, that manages apparel, health and beauty, and small general merchandise.

‘We’re developing a world-class supply chain that prioritizes our customers,’ said John Bayliss, transformation officer at Walmart Canada.

When announcing the plan, Walmart Canada noted that the new and upgraded DCs will feature state-of-the-art technology. The company said the Vaughan facility is partnering with Vanderlande for “next generation” automation, while the Surrey facility is working with Witron for distribution logistics technology. And in the Cornwall DC, Cobot Technology machine-learning solutions are expectedd to improve operational accuracy and efficiency.

Walmart Canada also said its investment will bolster distribution capacity through “omni-capable” next-gen warehouse management systems for physical stores and e-commerce. In addition, the use of telematics and Internet of Things (IoE) sensors across more than 2,200 trailers will enable the collection of real-time information on the quality and freshness of deliveries.

“Walmart’s decision to locate its eastern Canadian distribution center here in Moncton is a both welcome news and a recognition of the city and province’s growth advantage,” New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs stated. “The importance of supply chains is well-understood after the past year of upheaval. Moncton and its vast supply chain apparatus of distribution centers, excellent roads, rail connection, air links as well as top-caliber people have helped keep the region going.”

Currently, Walmart Canada operates more than 400 stores and 11 distribution sites, with the latter located in Calgary (Alberta), Mississauga and Cornwall. The company serves 1.5 million customers, while the online store is visited by more than 900,000 shoppers daily.