Artist's rendering of completed Big Y facility expansion
Big Y Foods Inc.’s 189,000-square-foot distribution center in its hometown of Springfield, Mass., which now supports 70 supermarkets, will be expanded to provide capacity for the next 20 years, including 20 new supermarkets. The company anticipates that it will need 53 dock doors, along with an additional 232,000 square feet of space, for a total of nearly 425,000 square feet – the size of almost 10 football fields.
The facility currently has 19 receiving bays and operates round the clock seven days a week with a staff of 92, as well as housing a large recycling area for cardboard and plastic wrap, and serving as a staging area for meat donations being sent to local food banks.
The expansion is expected to streamline the flow of goods to all Big Y stores and will require another 32 full-time employees at the site. The expansion will include 152,000 square feet of additional dry-product storage and 82,000 square feet of specialized refrigerated storage for various products, including additional banana-ripening rooms.
The expansion also aims to make it more efficient for farmers and other local suppliers to bring their products to the distribution center, saving them the time and expense of transporting items to individual Big Y stores, while ensuring freshness and speedy deliveries.
Other elements of expansion will be renovations to Big Y’s adjacent headquarters, such as a new employee entrance and visitors’ reception area, a new employee café, and a test kitchen for the development of new recipes, concepts, meals, and dietary and nutritional options, as well as new consumer products before their launch. In addition, the test kitchen will be able to host food tastings and focus groups, as well as serve as the site for additional training for store teams.
Big Y is teaming with Kevin Kennedy, chief development officer of the Office of Planning and Development for the city of Springfield, and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno on a plan for the $35 million-to-$40 million undertaking. Further, the grocer has retained Springfield-based Dennis Group, a full-service planning, architecture, engineering and construction management firm, on the project, which is expected to be completed over the next 18 months.
“Our goal is always to provide our customers with the freshest produce and best available local products,” explained Big Y President and COO Charles L. D’Amour. “We are bursting at the seams, and this expansion will allow us to better serve our customers and supply our stores. We’re proud to call Springfield our home and look forward to continuing to support our local communities and local partners.”
The site has a lot of history for Big Y. Back in 1995, the grocer expanded its three smaller distribution facilities into the former Rexnord Roller Chain Manufacturing Co. on Springfield's Roosevelt Ave. At that time, a staff of 27 people distributed produce and other products to the chain’s 31 supermarkets throughout the region. Three years later, Big Y’s corporate headquarters and Store Support Center moved to the same site.
One of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England, Big Y operates 78 locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, including 70 supermarkets, 39 pharmacies, Fresh Acres Market, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors, and six Big Y Express gas and convenience locations, employing more than 11,000 associates.