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Inauguration of innovative Groupe Robert refrigerated distribution centre


Varennes, QC – Only two years after announcing its ambitious project, Groupe Robert, in collaboration with Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, has officially inaugurated its automated distribution centre in Varennes. This investment of over $200 million, supported by financial contributions from the government of Quebec, Investissement Québec and several partners, places Groupe Robert at the forefront of food logistics in Quebec.

For this project, Groupe Robert drew inspiration from some of the most technologically advanced distribution centres on the planet. The company wanted to offer its customers the best possible solutions to help them ensure the reliability and profitability of their operations.

Michel Robert, President and CEO of Groupe Robert, said: “This new state-of-the-art distribution centre, that brings together the best proven technologies in the industry, demonstrates Groupe Robert’s continued commitment to innovation and excellence for our clients.”  Groupe Robert is the first third-party logistics (3 PL) service provider in Quebec with an automated warehouse for fresh and frozen food products, one of the most advanced facilities in North America.

“This new state-of-the-art facility will serve to consolidate the supply chain in Quebec by ensuring the reliable distribution of fresh products throughout the province. With its new distribution centre, Groupe Robert is helping to make our agri-food industry more autonomous, efficient and effective,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy.

A veritable state-of-the-art showcase

Beyond its functional aspect, this facility is a veritable showcase of Quebec innovation, know-how, productivity, and leadership. To improve the building’s energy efficiency, Groupe Robert had specific, thicker insulating panels developed for the project, which are now certified. In terms of fire protection, the traditional sprinklers have been replaced by an oxygen level reduction system, designed by Wagner, the same company whose fire suppression systems are protecting the British Library and its over 400-year-old historical documents.  

The building itself is an architectural feat: A 14-storey freestanding structure, built with high-precision parts manufactured in Austria and pre-assembled in the Saguenay before being erected in Varennes. This method helped propel the development of local expertise. To start operations, only the unloading and loading will be done manually, which greatly improves efficiency in the face of the current labour shortages, without any loss of employment, because it’s a net addition in capacity.

Added capacity to meet agri-food demand

Located near Highway 30, the large vertical capacity distribution centre will boast a height of 131 feet and will have storage capacity for 60,000 pallets, 30,000 for fresh products and 30,000 for frozen products.

This new warehouse is an addition to the facilities of Groupe Robert’s Boucherville agri-food complex and will allow the company to offer existing and new customers augmented solutions for their refrigerated and frozen goods.

Photos: ribbon-cutting ceremony by Sophie Belina Brzozowska and warehouse image from Groupe Robert.