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Walmart Canada Announces Massive Fulfillment Centre Near Calgary as Part of Significant National Growth Initiative: Interview

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Walmart Canada continues to accelerate its commitment to its omni-channel network across the country with the announcement Monday of a new $118-million, 430,000-square-foot fulfillment centre in Rocky View County, which is located just north of Calgary’s city limits.

The retailer said the facility is slated to open in September 2022 and Walmart customers will see better product availability and quicker service whether they choose to shop in-store or online at Walmart.ca.

“We are tremendously proud to be investing in a new fulfillment centre in the Calgary area that will create jobs, boost the economy and deliver quicker service for our customers,” said Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO, Walmart Canada.

Horacio Barbeito at Rocky View County Fulfillment Centre (Image: Mario Toneguzzi)

“This modern facility will provide our associates with the latest logistics technology to improve our supply chain. That means more products available, more orders fulfilled and more Canadians offered two-day shipping. This is how we’re transforming our operations to meet the needs of Albertans and all Canadians.

“The customer will see more selection, better product availability and a quicker service whether they choose to shop in-store or online.”

He said the facility will use innovative robotic technology to better support its employees to better serve customers.

“This is very important. This is technology and robotics that helps our associates do their jobs better and faster, not to replace employees,” he said. 

Walmart Canada (CNW Group/Walmart Canada Corp.)

“This high tech facility will feature cutting-edge technology to help us reach more Canadians faster and more efficiently by creating a new delivery hub in Western Canada.”

Including the new facility in the Calgary area, announced Monday, and the ones under construction in Surrey, Moncton and Vaughan, there will eventually be a total of 17 across the country –  a combination of distribution and fulfillment centres with a total square footage of approximately nine million.

“At Walmart, service is a core value and as Walmart’s founder Sam Walton would say, there’s only one boss and that’s the customer,” said Barbeito.

“The past two years have been challenging times and we keep facing kind of a rocky present. People nowadays are worried about the rising cost of living as we continue to hopefully phase out the pandemic. But it’s also a concern on inflation and global disruptions. I want our customers to know that we’re listening to them and responding to their needs. At Walmart we’re on a mission to help Canadians save money and live better. This landmark investment will help us deliver on that promise.”

John Bayliss at Rocky View County Fulfillment Centre (Image: Mario Toneguzzi)

The new facility in the Calgary area is located in High Plains Industrial Park and it is the third Walmart industrial real estate facility in Rocky View County. The other two centres in the area, of 428,000 square feet and 400,000 square feet, were constructed about 12 years ago and seven years ago.

“The retail business is evolving and Walmart Canada is responding with investments in Alberta and across Canada to bolster our supply chain network,” said John Bayliss, Executive Vice President, Transformation Officer, Walmart Canada. “Walmart Canada is on a transformation journey and this investment ensures we can deliver for our customers in Western Canada, now and in the future.”

He said the Alberta market is a critical one for the retailer.

“For over 25 years this market has been our most critical supply chain hub for our company,” said Bayliss, adding that the Calgary hub is essential for the company because it helps the flow of goods to other parts of the country.

Walmart Canada (CNW Group/Walmart Canada Corp.)

“This hub has also been one of many firsts for us here in Canada. You can see in the distance the beautiful mountains,” said Bayliss from the site of the new facility. “You can see a windmill in the distance. That marks the spot of when it opened about 10 years ago one of the most sophisticated and environmentally-sound warehouses in the world, right here in this industrial park (High Plains Industrial Park).

“Also, this site here was home to our women in logistics program which has gone on to not only be a standard here in Canada but around the world. They’ve also pioneered safety, sustainability and engagement programs which are now the standard for us here in Canada. It is only fitting as we look to our future and look to transform our operations to better serve Canadians through our e-commerce business that we’re making this major investment in this community and in this team. This $118-million investment is part of our plan to expand, revolutionize and transform our best-in-class supply chain network while increasing our e-commerce capability to better serve millions of Canadians.”

Patricio Dallan

“We are excited to be bringing a new high-tech fulfillment centre to the Calgary area,” said Patricio Dallan, Senior Vice President of Omni Supply Chain, Walmart Canada. “Our customers deserve the best experience when they shop with us and this investment will help us deliver more items to more households quicker than ever before. We are proud to be investing for growth in Western Canada while improving our supply chain to deliver for Canadians.”

The retailer said the new facility, which will create 325 new jobs, will be a new delivery hub for Western Canadian customers, expand two-day shipping to 61 per cent of Canadians and it will be capable of shipping 20 million units annually.

Image: Walmart Canada

The new high-tech sortable fulfillment centre is part of the retailer’s plan to expand, revolutionize and transform its best-in-class supply chain network while increasing its e-commerce capabilities to better serve Walmart customers. It is part of Walmart Canada’s $3.5 billion investment to make the online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster and more convenient for Walmart customers.

“The modern facility will be powered by cutting-edge logistics technology to achieve productivity with less physical effort. For the first time at Walmart Canada, innovative robotic technology from GreyOrange will be used at the fulfillment centre. This platform will speed up order fulfillment by using an advanced operating system that will help associates store, pick and sort items by using smart and flexible storage abilities to manage a large and wide variety of inventory. The result is an order fulfillment process that is quicker, easier and more efficient,” said the company, adding that the facility will be capable of storing 500,000 items to fulfill direct to home and in-store pickup orders and it is designed to optimize packaging, minimize waste and reduce transportation costs.

In Alberta, the retailer has 61 stores and four distribution centres. Last year, it invested more than $50 million in upgrading some of its stores in the province. It has more than 16,000 associates in Alberta.

Walmart said it recently purchased approximately $200 million worth of products from Alberta-based suppliers over a 12-month period.

Last year, it added more than 100 new Canadian suppliers, which includes a nine per cent increase in Alberta-based suppliers.

In Canada, the retailer has more than 400 stores with 1.5 million customers every day. Its online store is also visited by more than 1.5 million customers on a daily basis.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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