Woolworths to build its first automated facility in Western Sydney

Supermarket company, Woolworths, plans to build its first automated Customer Fulfilment Centre (CFC) in Auburn, New South Wales.

The development application for the CFC is subject to NSW Department of Planning approval. If approved, the 22,000-square-metre Auburn CFC will support up to 250 full-time equivalent roles and around 440 jobs during construction.

The facility will be built in partnership with Knapp, whose automation technology will help Woolworths’ personal shoppers pick and dispatch up to 50,000 home deliveries a week in Western Sydney.

The plans come as Woolworths reported e-commerce sales growth of 92 per cent from July-December 2020. Those e-commerce sales now account for around 8.0 per cent of total sales.

“We’ve seen an extraordinary acceleration in online grocery shopping over the past year,” said WooliesX Managing Director, Amanda Bardwell.

Auburn CFC, according to Bardwell will deliver a step change in Woolworths’ online offer for Western Sydney customers by providing world-class automation, faster delivery options and extra delivery windows.

Subject to planning approvals, construction is expected to commence in 2021 ahead of an operational launch by 2024.

Woolworths continues to invest in Pick Up (including Direct to Boost), in-store fulfilment and on-demand delivery.

The Auburn site at 11-13 Percy Street forms part of an industrial precinct including warehouses, manufacturing, freight logistics and large format retail. The plans provide for two levels of ancillary office space, car parking for more than 330 cars with private vehicle access via Percy Street, and loading and delivery docks with delivery vehicle access via Percy Street. The proposal also includes rainwater harvesting, solar panels and electric vehicle charging facilities, and the building will target a 5-Star Green Star Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

In line with NSW planning policy, developments with a capital investment value of more than $50 million are considered State Significant Development (SSD) and can be assessed by the NSW Planning Department.

Earlier this month, Woolworths made inroads with locally-produced paper carry bags and also committed $223 million to gain a majority stake in a data analytics firm.