Grocer H-E-B said Wednesday that it plans to open a “world-class” tech facility in East Austin next year that will employ several hundred people.
The grocery chain said it will be leasing a two-story, 81,000-square-foot office at 2416 East Sixth Street, just blocks away from its East 7th Street store.
The space will be renovated into what H-E-B said will be a “creative and collaborative workspace for Austin-based partners,” which include an H-E-B digital team, as well as staff members from Austin-based delivery service Favor.
H-E-B said the center will be completed next spring.
“This state-of-the-art space will be a hub for creativity and innovation as we continue to develop the ultimate digital experience for our customers,” Jag Bath, chief digital officer at H-E-B and Favor CEO, said in a written statement Wednesday. “Bringing H-E-B and Favor closer together will allow us to promote collaboration between our two companies.”
After Amazon bought Whole Foods Market last year, sending shock throughout the grocery industry and threatening food retailers, grocery chains have upped their technology ambitions.
Walmart has expanded its grocery delivery system and also began testing robots for restocking inventory. Last December, Target bought grocery delivery company Shipt, while Kroger weeks ago began a pilot program involving autonomous vehicle grocery delivery.
H-E-B has also recently expanded its grocery delivery and curbside pickup services after buying Favor in February.
While the company did not give many details Wednesday about its new tech facility, it said that it plans to add several hundreds local jobs with the expansion, including for product design and software management positions.
H-E-B, based in San Antonio, is the largest privately-held employer in Texas. The chain has 400 stores, mainly throughout South and Central Texas.