Cut fruit and vegetables, leaf, grain and pasta salads, sandwiches, wraps, and other grocery deli and grab and go favorites will be among the foods produced at a new Ahold Delhaize USA central kitchen in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Retail Business Services, the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, which is co-headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, and Salisbury, North Carolina, will run the facility through its subsidiary, Infinity Fresh Kitchen.
The facility will initially provide fresh foods for Ahold’s Hannaford and Stop & Shop grocery stores.
In addition to being a central kitchen, the building will house a culinary innovation center.
“As the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, the largest grocery retail group on the East Coast, Retail Business Services is charged with finding innovative solutions that enable the local grocery brands we support to focus on serving their customers,” says Roger Wheeler, president of Retail Business Services. “Infinity Fresh Kitchen is the latest example of this innovation, which will help our retail partners bring the latest fresh, convenient items to their customers.”
The culinary innovation center in the facility will test new, fresh, private brand food concepts, says Jacqueline Ross, Retail Business Service’s vice president of private brands innovation.
“We want to create food items that perfect the expected and delight consumers with the unexpected,” Ross says. “We’re excited to allocate a portion of the space in this facility to private brand product innovation, particularly fresh, nutritious items and preparations.”
Retail Business Services purchased the facility from Salinas, California-based Taylor Farms, which will continue to manage the facility’s operations and workforce. Once operational, the facility is expected to initially add about 250 jobs to the Rhode Island economy and additional jobs over time.
“We’re pleased to work with Retail Business Services on this innovative facility,” says Bruce Taylor, CEO of Taylor Farms. “We look forward to completing the outfitting of the facility and getting operations underway in the coming months.”
Construction is underway to outfit the building for Infinity Fresh Kitchen, and initial operations at the facility are expected to begin this fall.
Retail Business Services currently provides services to six East Coast grocery brands, including Food Lion, Giant Food, GIANT/MARTIN'S, Hannaford and Stop & Shop, as well as the country’s largest online grocery retailer, Peapod.
Retail Business Services leverages the scale of the local brands to drive synergies and provides industry-leading expertise, insights and analytics to local brands to support their strategies with services including information technology, merchandising, marketing and sourcing services, private brand products and other services.
Technology office also opened
The Rhode Island central kitchen/innovation center comes on the heels of another Retail Business Services opening.
In June, the company opened its new technology office in Quincy. The building houses 200 information technology associates and an innovation lab that provide technology services for the local brands of Ahold Delhaize USA, including Stop & Shop in the Boston area.
At the facility’s grand opening, Retail Business Services associates demoed technologies, created in the company’s innovation lab, that create new instore experiences for customers and make grocery shopping easy.
“We’re proud to cut the ribbon on this new office and continue to be an employer of choice and a good neighbor in the Quincy community,” Wheeler says. “Our business provides services to one of the largest grocery retail groups in the United States, and we’re rapidly growing as we support local grocery brands through a period of evolution taking place in our industry. This new space enables us to continue our trajectory of growth.”
Retail Business Services is hiring for about 70 information technology positions based in the new Quincy office and at Retail Business Services’ other East Coast and Chicago locations.
“We’re excited for this new space as we continue to expand our team,” says Paul Scorza, the company’s executive vice president for IT and chief information officer. “Whether it’s through our co-op program that brings college and graduate students into our innovation lab for six-month rotations, full-time hiring, or partnerships with start-ups, universities and others, we’re always in the market for top talent to support our mission of creating the next generation of grocery retail.”
The new office includes 30,000 square feet of two recently renovated floors of a building in the heart of Quincy at 10 Granite St., just 8 miles from Boston. The office was designed using the activity-based workspace concept, which includes open seating, collaboration areas and multiple size conference rooms with state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment. Each floor has a kitchenette for convenience, and the office offers a recreation room for associates to enjoy while on break.
In a move designed to help spur other IT firms to do business in Quincy, Retail Business Services will sponsor two technology start-ups for a period of six months and provide meeting and mentorship opportunities with its chief information officer and other innovation associates.
The Quincy Chamber of Commerce is actively recruiting for tech start-ups interested in the opportunity.
Ahold invests in electronic shelf labels
Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize announced a strategic partnership with China-based Hanshow Technology to introduce digital instore applications for its European brands. As a first step in this collaboration, the brands will deploy Hanshow’s electronic shelf labels across their store networks. In addition, Ahold Delhaize and Hanshow will set up a Joint Innovation Lab to develop new in-store functions and capabilities.
Ahold Delhaize and Hanshow started collaborating in early 2018 with electronic shelf labels (ESL) in stores at Delhaize Belgium and Albert Heijn in the Netherlands. ESL allows customers to easily obtain product information and pay conveniently with mobile phones or near-field communication (NFC) cards and also allows for quicker and more dynamic pricing methods, such as automated price reductions for items close to the expiration date. This partnership has been extended and intensified so that the two companies will now collectively develop new digital solutions for all Ahold Delhaize’s European brands.
The first step in the extended partnership is for Hanshow to supply ESL to all Ahold Delhaize’s European brands in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Greece, Czech Republic, Serbia and Romania. In the Joint Innovation Lab, Hanshow and Ahold Delhaize will develop other digital innovations such as frictionless payment, in-store navigation and in-store advertising.
As part of the collaboration, Hanshow will move its European head office to the Amsterdam region, close to the Ahold Delhaize Global Support Office. This move will allow both teams to work closely together and simultaneously develop and test new solutions.
“The digital applications we will develop through this partnership will enhance the customer experience in our stores and allow us to operate more efficiently,” says Wouter Kolk, CEO of Ahold Delhaize Europe & Indonesia. “Hanshow offers best in class instore applications and know-how, and we have been very pleased with their contribution to the mobile phone scan and pay service ‘YesWeScan’ at Delhaize and with the first wave of installed ESL at Albert Heijn. This is an important step for Ahold Delhaize and our local brands to offer an easy and attractive shopping experience to our customers.”