Central Grocers Adds to Joliet, Ill., Facility

Central Grocers Inc, a members-owned grocery cooperative based in Joliet, Illinois, is adding a 60,000-square-foot freezer expansion to its distribution facility, which opened in 2009. Construction is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2013.

The 75 percent increase in capacity will significantly expand Central Grocers' frozen food, ice cream, and fresh meat capabilities. According to CEO Jim Denges, the project will add 2,000 new pick slots and 8,000 more reserve slots. “This undertaking will enhance our ability to serve our members with not only a broader product line, but should [also] improve our overall operations capability and efficiency in the frozen food space,” he noted.

Once expanded, the distribution center, located in Joliet’s Cherry Hill Industrial Park, will provide more than 1 million square feet of space for the more than 400 retail stores it serves. “Since we opened the new facility about four years ago, we have always anticipated this expansion,” said Denges. “Now is the right time to make this happen.” He went on to note that the additional freezer space would also house the co-op’s frozen turkey supplies. The new space will bring the total area set aside for frozen and fresh meat products to about 140,000 square feet.

With 40 feet of vertical clearance, the Central Grocers facility houses products for members ranging from small independent grocers to regional chains such as Strack & Van Til and Ultra Foods. Member stores are located mainly in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, with additional locations in Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The company offered no projections on the number of permanent jobs that the DC might create. Central Grocers currently employs 600 permanent workers.

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