United Natural Foods Inc., the leading national distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods, announced plans to consolidate its four existing Denver-based distribution facilities into a new state-of-the-art 535,000-square-foot facility located at Gateway Park in Aurora, Colo. The new facility is expected to commence operations in the summer of 2013.
Situated near Interstate 70 in the Denver International Airport corridor, the new facility will serve as a distribution hub for retailers in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States as well as Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The existing facilities' consolidation, all located within the city of Aurora, extends the Company's focus on enhancing efficiencies, improving productivity through "best in class" warehousing and inventory control systems, lowering operating costs in its distribution network and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The distribution facility will be leased from The Pauls Corp.
"With new and efficient operations, and all our associates located together, this new facility should enable us to continue to expand our operations while reducing operating costs," said Steve Spinner, UNFI's president and CEO. "Denver and Aurora are great communities with a strong and receptive workforce. We are very excited about continuing our long-standing relationship in the area with a single, centrally-located facility at Gateway Park."
Commenting on the Company's announcement, Steve Hogan, mayor of Aurora, said, "United Natural Foods is a solid company with a bright future, and we are thrilled they have chosen to consolidate their operations in Aurora. Aurora is the land of opportunity for business, and this state-of-the-art facility will bring new energy to our community. We're proud to have United Natural Foods in Aurora, and we look forward to their continued success."
The Company noted that no jobs are expected to be impacted in the transition. The new distribution facility is expected to open with 475 associates, increasing up to 550 associates within the first three years based on current plans for increased capacity to meet demand.
"We are thrilled UNFI chose to stay in Aurora and build a new facility to house its growing workforce," stated Wendy Mitchell, president and CEO of the Aurora Economic Development Council. "Building a new state-of-the-art facility will give the community a chance to see how companies have used the past few years to regroup and refocus their efforts on providing the best quality and cost effective solutions to their customers while growing their workforce. Aurora is privileged to have the opportunity to have one of the few construction projects of this size in the metro area, and to have it built with emphasis on LEED certification."
The new distribution facility will feature approximately 160,000 square feet of refrigeration and freezer space, including an expanded cold dock, and over 42,000 square feet for employee offices and workspaces. Environmental design plans will focus on resource and energy conservation, use of sustainable and recycled-content building materials and exceptional indoor air quality for the building occupants.
As part of its commitment to Green Initiatives, the Company plans to pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for this distribution facility once operations commence. LEED is a third-party certification program and a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.