Sobeys Building Automated DC

Sobeys Inc. will start construction on an automated grocery distribution center in the Montréal suburb of Terrebonne, Quebec. The facility, slated to open in early 2013, will use the same innovative technology featured at the Canadian grocer’s Vaughan, Ontario, facility, which opened in 2009.

The 470,000-square-foot Terrebonne center will consolidate all of the company’s dry grocery distribution for the province of Quebec, considerably boosting Sobeys’ warehouse and distribution capacity while lowering overall distribution costs and improving service to its stores and customers.

“We are taking advantage of the leading-edge technology that is transforming the food business in Europe and in North America, and that will become a must in our industry,” noted Marc Poulin, president operations at Sobeys Québec. “This significant capital investment clearly demonstrates our intention to support a strong food distribution network and infrastructure in the Quebec market.”

The Terrebonne facility will integrate WITRON Logistik Corp. technology, which includes an automated picking and assembly system for better product selection accuracy, and the ability to customize store deliveries according to the various store layouts of each of the company’s banners.

Additionally, as part of this consolidation of distribution, Sobeys will shutter its Riviere-du-Loup DC and convert its Rouyn-Noranda facility to a cross-docking platform. The grocer said it would also “refocus the mandates” of its Montreal-North, Boucherville and Quebec City DCs, and is now evaluating the likely effect of these changes on its employees. Implementation of the changes is planned for early 2013.

To learn more about the technology that will be used in the new DC, a video, “Delivering the Future,” can be viewed at

A wholly owned subsidiary of Empire Co. Ltd., Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based Sobeys owns or franchises more than 1,300 stores in all 10 Canadian provinces under retail banners including Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Price Chopper and Thrifty Foods, in addition to Lawtons Drug Stores.

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