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United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), a Providence, R.I.-based national distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods, said yesterday that it plans to lease a 590,000-square-foot distribution center in Lancaster, Texas. Owned by ProLogis, a Denver-based global provider of distribution facilities, the recently built site is strategically located 15 miles south of downtown Dallas, affording UNFI an ideal base from which to service retailers in its Southwest territories, which include Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Operations are slated to begin in the fall 2010 and, within the first year, UNFI expects to employ about 130 new associates to work at the facility. The Lancaster DC extends the distributor’s goal of reducing operating costs in its distribution network; enhancing efficiencies; improving productivity through best-in-class warehousing and inventory control systems, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The facility will be the company’s 21st DC in its national distribution network.
Schematic design plans for the new facility, which are near completion, include dry grocery as main program space, 54,000 square feet of refrigeration and freezer space, an expanded cold dock, and almost 20,000 square feet of employee offices and workspaces. Environmental design plans will emphasize resource and energy conservation, use of sustainable and recycled-content building materials, and superior indoor air quality for the building occupants. UNFI plans to submit an application to the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification when retrofitting is complete and the facility is up and running.
“Focused on extending our market share and enhancing growth opportunities, this new distribution center will augment our growing presence in the Southwestern United States,” said UNFI president and CEO Steve Spinner. “Additionally, by transferring distribution routes from our Denver facility to Lancaster, we will be reducing greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions, improving service levels to customers in this region and enhancing overall operating efficiencies.”
UNFI carries and distributes over 60,000 products to more than 17,000 customers across the United States. The company serves a wide variety of retail formats, among them conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators and the foodservice businesses.