Walmart to renovate Cornwall distribution centre as part of $3.5B Canadian investment

Cornwall Walmart Distribution Centre
Walmart Logistics' Cornwall Distribution Hub is one of two facilities the retailer operates in the Eastern Ontario city.

One of Eastern Ontario’s largest distribution centres is in line for a significant facelift as the world’s largest retail chain plans a massive upgrade of its Canadian network.

Walmart Logistics arrived in Cornwall in 1999 and currently operates two distribution centres, each 1.5 million square feet in size, in the city.

Earlier this week, Walmart said it would spend $1.1 billion to build two new distribution centres in Vaughan, Ont., and Surrey, B.C., as well as renovate an existing facility in Cornwall to add automated systems to manage apparel, health and beauty as well as other small general merchandise items. The system is slated to go live in early 2021, Walmart said.

It’s part of a broader $3.5 billion, five-year plan that focuses on technology to make so-called “smarter stores.”

“The investment will impact every aspect of the business,'' the company said in a statement, adding it comes as its Canadian business grows, with grocery and e-commerce gaining “significant momentum.”

The investment will create hundreds of construction jobs in Canada and forge partnerships with Canadian high-tech companies, Walmart Canada said.

It said it will also renovate 150 stores, or more than one-third of its total network of more than 400 stores in the country, over the next three years.

It plans to accelerate digitization to make its stores smarter, which will include expanding electronic shelf labels and shelf scanners to monitor product volumes.

Walmart Canada will revamp checkouts with larger self-checkouts, as well as giving employees technology to allow customers to check out items from anywhere in the store.

The company said it will also expand robotics and computer vision cameras, which will help with efficiency and accuracy.

Walmart Canada also aims to offer a complete merchandise pick-up service at about 270 branches, or 70 per cent of its locations in Canada, by the end of this year.

It will pilot what it called hybrid locations that have micro fulfilment centres in an effort to increase pickup and delivery order speeds.

The investment will ensure Walmart Canada develops an enviable supply chain, said John Bayliss, senior vice-president of logistics and supply chain, in a statement.

“The better the supply chain, the quicker our customers can get the products they want.”

– With files from OBJ staff