Kroger to invest $465M, create 3,400-plus jobs with central Indiana expansion, renovations

INDIANAPOLIS – Kroger will build 11 new stores and expand or remodel 22 others in a $464.6 million central Indiana expansion that will create 3,440 permanent jobs, the retailer announced Wednesday.

A four-year strategic plan for the nine-county Indianapolis area began quietly last year and includes building seven Kroger Marketplace stores in Fishers, Franklin and Indianapolis. Kroger Marketplaces are the Cincinnati-based retailer’s largest outlets at about 125,000 square feet and include cafes, baby stores and apparel shops. The seven stores are forecast to cost $141 million and create 1,530 jobs.

The company also plans to build four new stores averaging 75,000 square feet, expand five others and remodel 17, it said.

The chain also will build a regional training centre in Indianapolis, remodel 22 pharmacies and open 16 new gas stations.

Kroger also said it will expand its Simple Truth natural and organic food offerings.

The moves come amid the expansion of several specialty competitors in the central Indiana grocery market, including Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and Earth Fare. Meijer, Marsh, Aldi, Target and Wal-Mart also compete in the region.

“Kroger has remained very competitive in the marketplace because we recognize the critical importance of investing in stores with features appropriate to the 21st century marketplace and evolving customer expectations,” Jeff Burt, president of Kroger’s central division, said in a news release.

Kroger over the past six years also has invested $125 million and 500 new jobs in the Fort Wayne area and $40 million and 300 jobs in the Bloomington area.