REAL ESTATE

Walmart making big investment in Florida

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is expanding—and updating—its footprint in the Sunshine State.

The retailer will open nine new stores across Florida in its current fiscal year, creating more than 800 jobs, and also execute a multi-million-dollar capital investment plan by remodeling more than 40 locations across the state. Walmart currently operates 375 stores in Florida.

The coming months will also see Walmart announce the official grand opening of its 150-acre e-commerce distribution center in Davenport, Florida. The facility, which has recently been certified as fully operational, represents an approximate investment of more than $300 million with two buildings spanning more than 2.2 million sq. ft.

The discounter also confirmed plans to break ground later this year on a new distribution center for perishable goods in the City of Cocoa, Florida. The company is planning an investment of more than $145 million on the planned 640,000 sq. ft. facility.

"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,” said 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."

Walmart’s 2017-2018 investment plans build on the chain's growth last year in Florida, which included:

*Hiring more than 3,225 Floridians by opening more than 20 stores/clubs across the state.

*Investing millions of dollars in more than 30 store remodels across the state.

*The expansion of its online grocery pickup service to 70 stores and the launch of Walmart Pay statewide.

*Opening a state-of-the-art supercenter in Lake Nona that showcases new approaches to technologies, services, products and store layout, which will be tested with customers and evaluated for potential implementation in other locations across the country.

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