Kroger grocery distribution centers in Fountain and Aurora employing 747 people will shift to a new operator, which will offer jobs to all workers, the new owner said Thursday.
Advantage Logistics USA West, owned by wholesale grocery giant Supervalu, notified the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment that it will close the distribution centers by mid-February.
But Windigo Logistics “is expected to begin operations at the same facility on or soon after Feb. 3,” the notice said.
Windigo has offered jobs to “many current Advantage Logistics (Supervalu subsidiary) employees who, assuming they accept, will continue working at the facility,” according to the notice.
Windigo intends “to hire all employees” at both centers, said company owner Greg Heying. He said Kroger, which owns the centers, approached him this year about forming a company to take over operation of the centers.
He reached a deal with Kroger a week before Providence, R.I.-based United Natural Foods, a major distributor to Whole Foods, agreed to buy SuperValu for $2.9 billion.
That transaction was completed late last month.
Kroger decided to “change partners for the management of these centers, and they approached me about setting up a new company to take over the centers,” Heying said.
Heying is a former longtime Supervalu distribution executive who started Advantage in 2004 to manage the centers for Kroger.
He retired as senior vice president-distribution in 2010 after 34 years with Supervalu and since then has operated a consulting company in Minneapolis for distribution strategy and operations.
Windigo will take over operation of the two distribution centers from Advantage on Feb. 2, Heying said. The 363,000-square-foot Fountain center distributes candy, health and beauty products, natural foods, cigarettes and other tobacco products to 329 City Market, King Soopers and Kroger stores in Colorado and five other states.
Teamsters Local 455 in Denver is negotiating with Windigo so it will assume Supervalu’s union contract, which was reached in 2016 after a 10-day strike, said union secretary-treasurer Steven Vairma.