Kroger moves its online health/wellness business to BRiC campus in Boca

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

One of the biggest names in the grocery store business, Kroger Company, has moved the national headquarters of its online health-and-wellness Vitacost.com business to a 43,000-square-foot, second-floor suite in the Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC) building at 4700 Exchange Court off Yamato Road.

The premises were relocated from a site across the street at 5400 NW Broken South Blvd.

Kroger is the largest supermarket chain by revenue and the second-largest general retailer, says a company news release. It has also spun off into various ancillary enterprises.

Vitacost.com Inc. is an American e-commerce company based in Boca Raton that sells vitamins, supplements and organic grocery products. The e-commerce firm’s website said it was purchased by Kroger in 2014.

“[BRiC’s] rich history and compelling story as it relates to the digital focus of our Boca office is one of the several reasons we chose to move to the campus,” said Guy Burgstahler, senior director of customer experience for Kroger. “It is home to several South Florida businesses that collectively create a great atmosphere that we are proud to be part of.”

Kroger apparently has no plans to open any brick-and-mortar supermarkets in the Boca Raton area, opting instead to support the Boca-based online health food and vitamin business it acquired 5 years ago.

There has been speculation that Kroger has been eyeing a purchase of the Bi-Lo/Winn-Dixie chain, but the new Boca location is not for that purpose. In response to a question from the Boca Newspaper, Krystal Howard, head of corporation communications and media relations for Kroger explained plans for the BRiC site.

“Kroger associates working at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus will support functions across the national business, including leading the work for Vitacost.com and supporting the development of a seamless experience that offers Kroger customers anything, anytime, anywhere.”

“Our seamless experience is powered by physical stores, delivery, pickup and ship. To illustrate, Kroger recently announced plans to build a Customer Fulfillment Center in Groveland, Fla., that will bring customers fresh food faster than ever before as part of our partnership with Ocado. The CFC will create 400 new jobs and serve Florida residents. It’s expected to become operational in 2021.”

Bloomberg News reported in 2018 that Kroger had acquired United Kingdom-based online grocer Ocado Group, which operates e-commerce platforms and its technology helps run logistics systems.

The grocer agreed to buy a stake in Ocado and license the technology that helps other grocers run automated warehouses and deliver groceries. The deal is the first of its kind in the U.S.

According to Bloomberg, Kroger will exclusively use Ocado’s technology in the U.S. and agreed to buy new shares in the company, taking a stake of 5 percent.

As to the relocation within Boca Raton, Kroger’s press release said that while the size of its new office at BRiC is roughly the same as the previous one, the new space was designed to be more efficient.

“The company’s initial space was broken up into different offices as it grew,” the firm said. “Now, the office is all in one contiguous space, split by break rooms and huddle spaces with flexible space options like standing desks and private phone booths.”

“One of BRiC’s value propositions is the efficiency of our building. Our column-free, open floor plans allow businesses the flexibility to design workspaces that meet their needs,” said Danielle Vennett, vice president at Crocker Partners, who helped facilitate the Kroger lease.

“Our first-class amenities and immediate access to I-95 and TriRail help us check the boxes for progressive organizations like Kroger,” she added. “We welcome their addition to campus in continuing to foster a community of innovation.”

Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC) is the largest single-facility office building in the state at 1.7 million square feet.

Designed by architect Marcel Breuer, the campus was originally constructed in 1969 for IBM and is home to the invention of the first personal computer in the early 1980s. The campus was acquired by Crocker Partners in 2018 with the vision of building off BRiC’s history and evolving the campus into a science and technology hub.

A landing place for companies with large footprints, BRiC is currently home to 36 tenants including Bluegreen Vacations, Modernizing Medicine and MDVIP.