Walmart Investing Big in Florida
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has revealed its statewide growth and investment plans for Florida, which it says will lead to an economic impact of well above $450 million. The mega-retailer’s plan will grow Walmart’s 375-facility footprint in Florida and build on the continued positive momentum in U.S. sales, customer traffic and customer feedback that the company highlighted in its most recent financial results.
More specifically, Florida’s sunny business climate has allowed Walmart to create thousands of local jobs, invest millions in infrastructure and test news ways to serve customers. The company’s investments in the state will include nine new stores that will create more than 800 jobs, multimillion-dollar renovations of 40-plus locations, and the official debut of a 150-acre ecommerce distribution center campus in Davenport.
Additionally, Walmart, which recently hired 550 associates, plans to hire at least 1,000 more over the next year, will invest more than $300 million in two buildings measuring a combined 2.2 million square feet, and has confirmed its intention to break ground later this year on a $145 million-plus, 640,000-square-foot distribution center for perishable goods in the city of Cocoa, which will employ more than 450 associates.
“This year has been an exciting one for Walmart in Florida, and we’ll build on that momentum as we continue to focus on how to better serve our customers through innovation and investments so they can save both time and money,” noted Elise Vasquez-Warner, Walmart’s VP and regional general manager in north Florida. “We’ve had a sharp focus on making our store experience second to none, and our customers are telling us that our plan is working. Our team is energized and we’re looking forward to exceeding our customer’s expectations for what a great Walmart shopping experience can be like.”
In its last fiscal year, the company provided jobs to more than 3,225 Floridians by opening more than 20 stores/clubs across the state, remodeled more than 30 stores, expanded its online grocery pickup service to 70 stores and the launch of Walmart Pay statewide, rolled out a supercenter in Lake Nona featuring cutting-edge shopping innovations, opened two more Walmart Academies in the state, and supported a variety of nonprofits, among other accomplishments.
During a recent interview with Progressive Grocer, industry observer Burt Flickinger noted Walmart’s recent success in Florida, where he said the company “was coming on strong,” having negotiated its lowest prices in the state in 15 years.
The Florida investments are part of Walmart’s nationwide “plan to allocate more capital to remodels, ecommerce, technology and logistics and allocate less to new stores and clubs,” as noted in the company’s 2017 annual report. Walmart also said that it would renovate 12 Michigan locations to include in-store pickup areas in the front of the store and wider aisles, among other features, according to published reports.