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Hy-Vee will repurpose fulfillment centers, leaving current jobs in limbo

Hy-Vee will stop filling online grocery orders at its four fulfillment centers, with an unknown effect on jobs. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Hy-Vee will permanently end filling online grocery orders at its four fulfillment centers this month — raising questions about the future for those employees.

The West Des Moines-based grocery company has fulfillment centers in Urbandale, Kansas City, Omaha and Eagan, Minn. It will move those operations back to its retail stores, said Tina Potthoff, spokesperson for Hy-Vee.

There is no confirmation yet if some employees will lose their jobs. Potthoff said she did not know the number of employees working at the centers.

While some employees will be transferred to grocery stores to help fill online orders, others will need to reapply for positions.

“We will be assisting employees in finding other job opportunities at Hy-Vee or another business,” Potthoff said in a statement.

Hy-Vee introduced online shopping to all of its stores in 2015 through its “Hy-Vee Aisles Online” program. Customers can buy groceries online and pick them up at a store or get them delivered.

A year after the launch of Hy-Vee Aisles Online, the company purchased its first fulfillment center in Urbandale, an 81,936-square-foot store at 3303 86th St. for $3.6 million, according to a Des Moines Register article from 2016.

In 2017, Hy-Vee announced it was building three more fulfillment centers out-of-state to meet its online demands. The centers are meant to help fill and package online orders.

But due to customer demand for same-day pick up and more product variety, Potthoff said Hy-Vee is moving fulfillment operations back to its grocery stores.

“Fulfillment center operations will be transferred to our retail stores later this month – that means customers’ orders will once again be fulfilled at their local Hy-Vee store,” Potthoff said.

Order fulfillment will end at the centers the week of March 23.

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